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25 Sierck les Bains
Feb 03, '12
28

Chapter 25

Sierck les Bains

After showering back at the hotel I met the girls for dinner at eight. This was our last night in Luxembourg so I wanted to make it memorable.

We told each other tales of what we had witnessed in Arlon. A large part of that consisted of my description of the low key wedding ceremony that had taken place between Jehanne and Robert des Armoises. Lilly and DD listened intently and tried to visualise all of the details. I listened with extreme interest to Lilly’s account of her brush with the Red Baron.

As she talked I got the distinct feeling that she was tuning into yet another one of her past lives set around World War I. The number 1896 kept surfacing in my mind and I intuitively felt that this was the year she was born, also that she had been German or Luxembourgish in that life which accounted for her fluent use of the language when talking to the red battle flyer.

Despite the excitement of this encounter Lilly remained sad as she was bitterly disappointed not to have had an encounter with her medieval mother Elisabeth Görlitz. The feeling that I had to be proactive and do something about this state of affairs built exponentially in me as we continued through our excellent meal.

Finally as I mellowed, relaxed and sank into my café cognac the seeds of a plan began to germinate in my fertile mind.

“Right, time for action!” I suddenly declared much to the astonishment of DD and Lilly. “It’s our last night in Luxembourg and I can’t go to bed without resolving the issue. You need to see your medieval mother, you have to see your medieval mother and you shall see your medieval mother! I think we should do an experiment, who’s up for it?”

I looked earnestly into Lilly’s sad eyes and saw the beginnings of a sparkle. It was a faint glimmer of hope that needed fanning into a blazing fire of controlled psychic energy. DD positively glowed with enthusiasm for the challenge and was up for anything having heard of our remarkable experiences.

Knowing she had been Jehanne des Armoises now fired her up. She began feeling her latent power, the latent power of a dragon princess waking up for Jehanne had been no ordinary peasant girl. Her psychic gift of prophecy and adventurous nature testified to the inherent genetic ability of looking beyond the normal material world. All she needed was a kick start to remove the mental blocks that had imprisoned her mind since birth in this life. Today had provided that kick start and now she was beginning to feel her own power rising like a phoenix in her corporal body. It was her birth rite and she was champing at the bit for action.

“I’m in!” She finally said as her passions rose to such a height that they could no longer be contained by her logical thought.

“Me too!” Lilly added as the electricity of the moment became infectious. It was dragon energy resonating between the three of us that was causing the effect. Just as harmonic tuning forks resonated in empathy with each other when one is struck and begins to vibrate.

“OK, un pour tous et tous pour un!” I placed my right hand palm down in the middle of the dining table, in quick succession DD placed her right hand on mine and Lilly hers on DD’s. Then I placed my left on top of theirs and they followed suite. As we engaged in this strange spontaneous ritual I could feel the energy multiplying and increasing exponentially with each touch. I could tell from the girls’ expressions of satisfaction that they were feeling the exact same phenomenon.

“Together we are strong, we can make this happen. Now do you believe?” I said in triumph as I could feel my own power rising up from the base of my spine and flowing out of the top of my head into my higher self and beyond.

“Let’s go! Follow me.” With that dramatic statement of intent I broke the hand fast and stood up. The girls followed my lead and we left the dining room to exit the hotel.

Although not dressed for the night air, as I was acting on impulse, I didn’t feel cold for my blood was up, my psyche on fire and I radiated pure energy.

We exited the hotel by the main reception door and turned left then left again, very quickly we found ourselves out on the familiar streets we had come to know. It was rapidly approaching midnight and I felt that the time was somehow significant as the bewitching hour would soon be upon us and the whole rock upon which Luxembourg city is built would act as one giant generator to provide the power for what I was about to attempt.

With unity of purpose we strode through the Uewerstad and continued along the whole length of the Grand Rue. Despite the late hour tourists could still be seen wandering the street under the bright waxing Moon and clear sky. I was navigating using my inner compass, a medieval memory of once familiar territory now long forgotten by my conscious mind.

As I walked I began to believe. DD and Lilly followed in a tight arrow head formation with enthusiasm and speed. As we reached the end of the Grand Rue I turned right into Rue du Fossé and followed the curved street around into Place de Clairefontaine. Finnally we halted in front of the bronze statue of Grand Duchess Charlotte as a bell somewhere tolled the stroke of midnight.

The large multi-level circular dais with its five tiers reinforced the energy point status of the scared position chosen for the statue. To our left the cathedral fed energy into the metallic antenna as a giant generator feeds a radio beacon. The bronze statue stood beckoning us to come closer with the Duchess’ out stretched right hand extended in welcome. Subliminally I knew that she was reaching out from beyond the grave to connect with her beloved people. I hoped with all my heart that she would now be able to make good that promise as Lilly was in desperate need to see her beloved medieval mother once more.

“MIR HUN LECH GAËR”

Slowly I read the epitaph inscription to Lilly as DD already knew what it said and that made my task easier as I could concentrate all my energy on Lilly.

“WE LOVE YOU”

I repeated the words in Luxembourgish several times as we gazed upon the face of the statue. Lilly changed position and moved silently to the centre of our arrow head formation. Her eyes transfixed on the beautiful kind face of the bronze statue, she never waivered. It was as if she was remembering and reconnecting with the past as I had hoped.

Silently as misty wraiths DD and I moved forward so that we paralleled the exact circumference of the dais perfectly and we joined hands with Lilly.

“MIR HUN LECH GAËR - MIR HUN LECH GAËR - MIR HUN LECH GAËR”

DD took up the mantra that I had begun chanting. Softly and with love we felt the vibratory shape each syllable of sound as it emanated from our vocal chords. It was the vibration of a lost language of magic preserved now only as an archaic language barely spoken. The octave difference of DD’s feminine voice provided the harmonic required to elevate the sound to beyond the dimensional curtain of our 3D physical existence. It seemed to be working.

Then slowly as if following an unspoken command we advanced onto the first ring of the dais. Gently we guided Lilly towards the statue and the out stretched arm of Grand Duchess Charlotte. At first she resisted our invitation but as we continued chanting the mantra her body softened and she started to enter the magical flow of the time stream beyond the 3D curtain of illusion.

“MIR HUN LECH GAËR”

Her voice joined our chorus in perfect harmony and I could feel the exponential jolt of the increased vibration resonate throughout my body. As our psychic frequency ascended to meld with the higher dimensions I could see the power of the moment take hold of Lilly’s body.

We advanced another step without noticing our physical movement. Our minds joining in a zeitgeist gestalt of power and trinity that focused through Lilly with laser precision.

“MIR HUN LECH GAËR”

We advanced again.

“MIR HUN LECH GAËR”

Then again we now reached the fourth ring. I knew that Lilly would have to make the final step herself if and when she was ready. My heart pounded rhythmically in time with the mantra, the pulses communicating through my fingers with Lilly and transmitting the energy of my intent into her.

Finally Lily floated away from my grasp and ascended the final step of the dais with a gentle weightless glide. DD and I let go simultaneously as one lets go of a small boat to cast it adrift on the waters.

Softly we maintained our invocation. Then the most amazing even took place, a curtain of white light descended from the sky to envelop the statue, it grew in width to encompass first Lilly and then DD and I.

The diameter of the ethereal beam seemed to mimic precisely the matching diameters of the respective rings of the dais. A silence descended.

The statue took form in spirit and manifested the body of Elisabeth Görlitz, the morphing of the face and the body coinciding with the fall of silence. Then fully formed the spirit became animated.

A spectral spirit hand lowered from the out stretched right arm of the statue and Lilly instinctively lifted up her left hand to join with it.

“My beloved daughter, we love you too.” The voice entered my head without effort. It was the voice of Elisabeth Görlitz, I recognised it immediately by its distinctive dulcet tones and intonation.

“You must follow your destiny my child. You were born to do this, heed not the consequences for we are eternal in spirit. I am always with you as you are with me. Do you not recognise yourself in this statue? You my darling precious daughter were once mortally Grand Duchess Charlotte of the House of Luxembourg. Your love for your people and this place anchors you here. It is your constant in many lives.”

Lilly raised her face towards her mother’s spirit, “What must I do? I am you and you are me. I feel the truth of your words. We have been mother daughter, daughter mother many times since coming to this world.”

“Merge with me my child and you will see everything that you desire.”

The silence intensified as the beam now grew brighter. The sense that this was a timeless place beyond our physical dimension became even more apparent; a construct of thought without substance.

Lilly stood gazing at her mother and gently nodded in agreement, as she did so her eyes flickered and closed. She then began downloading all the information she longed for from the akashic record of her medieval mother’s soul. Eons of time yet no time at all seemed to pass in this higher dimensional world. I watched in silent enchantment scarcely believing what I was witnessing. It was a miracle; a miracle that I had initiated and it had come from deep within my subconscious.

I glanced towards DD, she had the look of an angel and was transfixed in a pose of adoration that I had seen many times often illuminated in medieval manuscripts.

Gradually the light dimmed in intensity, it flickered erratically, then for a brief moment flared up and was gone.

As though waking from a dream I was suddenly conscious of the cold night air caressing my cheek. The clear sky above me sparkled with countless billions of stars and galaxies in its jet black heavenly vault. The Moon ever counting the passage of Earthly time had moved several degrees through the sky and was now low on the horizon.

Somewhere a dog barked and the transition was complete.

“I think that answers your question.” I said without emotion, my mind quiet and lost in contemplation as my voice returned automatically.

The vibrations of the sound seemed to awaken DD and Lilly from their psychic slumber. They moved, blinked and then sat down.

I joined them. Together we sat in a row on the dais steps with Lilly in the middle exactly as we had stood.

“I can never thank you enough, Yann. I feel that tonight I have come of age. I know who I am and I can navigate this reality once more with confidence, the confidence that I have always had. I no longer fear what we may discover in the coming few weeks. We will complete the mission.” Lilly spoke solemnly with her head bowed as she absorbed all the details of her experience.

DD placed a friendly arm around her to keep her warm and silently say; you are not alone. After several minutes of deep thought Lilly fired into motion, “Right, I am the navigator. I know where we must go and what we must do in order to complete our quest for the truth about La Pucelle. I can guide you up until the point that I physically die in 1431 but after that you must walk the last steps on your own, exactly as I have just done.”

Her voice was resolute and strong and armoured with a new confidence that fully justified her surname – Chevalier; for she had all the mettle of a warrior knight of old.

Dragon princesses are incredible I thought in total respect. DD stood and extended her hand to Lilly to help her up. Then she did the same for me. We momentarily embraced and she kissed me passionately on the lips. “I love you with all my heart and all my soul, Yann Baillieu.” The force of the statement rocked me and I felt a warm glow permeate my body as the truth of DD’s words hit home.

“And I you, my thrice beloved Jehanne.” We embraced again and then I turned towards Lilly. “I will follow you anywhere my Fleur d’Lilly, to the gates of hell and back and that is a knight’s promised.”

I knelt on one knee and bowed my head. DD did the same and repeated my words. It was true recognition of the royal blood that flowed through Lilly’s veins, for she had come of age and so had her powers.

Silently she stood before the statue of her former physical self and instinctively stretched out her right hand. It was a double take. “Arise, my black knight of Metz. We are all equal in spirit; arise also my warrior sister of light for you too are of the sisterhood. It is no accident that you have joined us at this moment in time. We are united across and through time, sometimes we are masculine and sometimes we are feminine but always together.” Lilly sounded uncharacteristically grand and I suddenly realised that she was feeling her royal power and that she spoke as her former Grand Duchess self.

“You are a very old and very wise soul, Lilly.” I acknowledged as I stood up to my full height.

“Mir hun lech gaër.” DD added and smiled.

The walk back to the hotel was relaxed and we all fell into our beds completely exhausted after the joint mental exertion we had exercised. The experiment had been a huge success and Lilly now had a head’s up road map of the way forward to solve the mystery. DD was totally amazed by the experience and rapidly adjusting to life on the psychic fast lane. Her old paradigms were being well and truly dismantled whole sale and she was loving every minute of it.

Breakfast was early and we checked out by 9 am. It was another warm August day with just a hint of cloud and the forecast was good for the week.

"What's the plan?" I asked Lilly as we climbed into the Megane.

"We are off to Sierck les Bains home of the Duke's of Lorraine. It's an amazing chateau ruin over looking the Moselle. My mother said we should go there to gather our companions in arms for the breakout attempt. I'm hoping that we may catch a glimpse of who they were. Mother left that choice up to Robert des Armoises, so it is down to you Yann to conjure up the magic again and fill in the gaps in our knowledge."

With that she fell silent as the short journey progressed. Just before the suburb of Strassen we turned left off of the Route d'Arlon and onto the south section of the ring road, the same road that we had used on our way into Luxembourg city just a couple of days previous. DD had changed positions to ride in the back with me, she nestled her head onto my shoulder in order be close and to gather some shut eye as we drove. Lilly was quite chatty and commented that she felt more like a chauffeur as she had no passenger in the other front seat! I laughed and made a comment about wearing out the young ones first as us olden’s needed looking after.

We had soon reached Dudelange but this time Lilly headed east on the A13 Route de la Sarre to Schengen on the Moselle, the journey went quickly as it is a major highway and we soon found ourselves at our destination.

In no time at all we headed past Montdorf les Bains and beyond into the double road tunnel on the final approach to Schengen. As we emerged from the artificially illuminated darkness we were treated to a panoramic view of the Moselle valley. The sight never ceased to give me goosebumps throughout my life yet I had never known why? Now with full conscious knowledge it was even more of a thrill as the river for me led to my home. I gently nudged DD awake and kissed her on the forehead.

"We are almost home! It leads all the way up river to Metz where we used to live." I held her hand tightly and gave it a squeeze. She smiled and kissed my cheek. “It’s as if there is no time my sweet black knight.” She added thoughtfully.

"It will be a tight squeeze time wise but I want to take DD there on the way back to Gare Lorraine TGV." Lilly added loudly from the driving seat over the noise of the diesel engine.

"If we miss our train; who cares? We've cut loose now with nothing to lose and everything to gain. I vote we push on!" I felt suddenly energised and was eager to communicate my sense of urgency to Lilly and DD. The quest was taking on a life of its own.

"I'm in!" DD said excitedly. "We can sort out clothes and other stuff along the way."

"I’d hoped you would say that DD. It is the only limiting factor as Yann and I are used to chasing stories." I could see Lilly smile in the driving mirror as the matter was settled. We would stick with the trail until the end or until it ran cold.

At the interchange over looking the river we took the first exit. It looped sinuously under the autoroute and then joined the local single lane road. Driving into Schengen Lilly took the road bridge over to the opposite east bank so that we would be on the correct side for the chateau as we entered Sierck les Bains. We then turned right onto the Route de Treves and headed south along the river upstream. Very quickly we hit the outskirts of the town and turned right down the short Rue de l'Europe to the riverside. The fortress could be seen rising above the houses at the opposite end of the town. Slowly we made our way along the riverside to the Quai des Ducs de Lorraine and into the car park below the chateau. The massive towers and curtain wall completely dominated the skyline and immediately impressed upon us the functionality of this place as a pressure point to exercise power over the medieval river trade.

"My mother said that even though old Duke Charles II of Lorraine was engaged in his own political intrigues with Burgundy and Luxembourg, he was now aged, infirmed and very near death. She felt that the tide was turning in our favour. His son-in-law René of Anjou was sympathetic to our Armagnac cause and freeing La Pucelle. He had fought at her side in the campaign for Orleans and was a son of Yolande of Aragon who was a fellow dragon princess of the sisterhood and the mastermind of project virgin. Yolande had therefore given leave to Robert and Marie to gather their companions here on that fateful January night in 1431. Who they are and how many she had no idea? That is the question we must answer here." Lilly talked as a general outlying her plans to company commanders before a battle so that each was clear on their mission in order to ensure overall success.

I thought for a moment and my subconscious volunteered an answer. "Ritter Freiherr Johannes Jakob von Eltz is one of them!" I felt sure that Robert's young German comrade in arms was bound to be one of the companions as he had been at Orleans. "But who is the third knight? Knowing our use of the power of three I sense that there is another. Each will also bring three men to assist. The answer is lurking in my subconscious mind I just need a visual nudge to extricate the information!"

Just before entering the narrow steep cobbled streets that climbed from the riverside we paused several times to look at the magnificent river view of the majestic Moselle. On the opposite west bank we could see orderly Vineyards with their neat rows of grape set amongst the trees and I could immediately imagine the delightful bouquet of their flowery white wines on my palette. The short walk to the entrance was steep and wound through medieval streets now lined with typical French town houses in various states of repair. Finally turning a corner we found the modest entrance to the chateau and paid to go in.

All around us were the echoes of long past medieval splendour and raw military power now turned to mere shadows of their former wealth and glory. As I climbed on I became more tuned in to my medieval memories, Lilly was right it was up to me to remember and all I needed to do was recreate the feelings of being back there in that specific time and place. This was the nudge that I needed in order to access the universal data stream.

DD and Lilly were enjoying the climb and savouring the same atmosphere. Both were in tune with chateaux and the medieval way of life it represented so both found it interesting and I could over hear them chatting away and comparing details. At the end of the long cobbled slope we approached the main tower gate. This was the business end of the chateau thick substantial stone masonry confronted us with its impressive strength. As I entered the tower the characteristic rose coloured archway formed so I knew that I was about to start time travelling.

It was night time and the Moon was shining brightly. I immediately noticed the sudden drop in temperature and I could see the white glisten of snow on the battlements. Two guards in cloaks with hoods and carrying halberds stood either side of the tower gate. They were saying that Duke Charles was not long for this world and they were worried about what would happen when he passed on.

I found myself conversing with them in medieval Alsace dialect which sounded part French part German. We joked about the weather and drinking wine to keep warm. I preferred cognac which they thought was very extravagant. They obviously knew me and I had the feeling that this was a regular occurrence as I had been in town for about a week.

I was waiting for something to happen and this was a way to pass the time. It was a natural extension of my job as Captain of the Sainte Barbe gate in Metz just up the river. I too had my loyal troops who I treated with love and respect, much as a father would treat his children. I had always found that I could command more loyalty and get the job done more efficiently if I got them on my side. Due to this approach I had the best squad of guards in all of Metz.

My blackened armour and attire was all part of the theatrical show as it discouraged braggarts and swaggerers from causing trouble. For them I was the black knight, a raven angel of death. A handy rumour that I did not take pains to deny as it served my purpose admirably. To my les enfants terrible I was kind, just and equal handed.

The guards respected me and knew that I was a soldier that shared the hardships of his men and that I never asked them to do anything that I was not prepared to do myself. I asked them if they had seen any strangers today. I was waiting for two knights and their men at arms. Ritter Freiherr Johannes Jakob von Eltz, he would be recognisable by a Gules over Argent shield bearing a half lion Or rampant and Ritter Matthias Habicht von Schweiz, a Swiss mercenary knight who I had made friends with at the siege of Orleans a couple of years ago. They would recognise him by a distinctive shield Gules with a Northern Goshawk standing on a small hill Vert. This was a depiction of his family name Habicht which means hawk in the Germanic tongue.

We had become good friends and I had sent a message to Chateau Chillon on Lac Léman where he resided in the service of the Count of Savoy when not actively engaged in a military enterprise. Like me he was a poor knight that had to work for a living. My other comrade Johannes however was from and extremely wealthy family but he had been sent out to gain experience and serve the Armagnac cause which is where we had met just two years pervious. Now I had been tasked by my liege Lord Elisabeth Görlitz, Dowager Duchess of Luxembourg to attempt a rescue mission. It was going to be dangerous, daring and audacious. So much so that the English Goddams would not know much about it until it was too late! I therefore needed men that I could trust and who would fight for a greater cause than money or women.

The target was La Pucelle herself who had been captured by the Burgundians at Compiègne, sold for 10 000 livres and was now imprisoned by the English. I had no idea of exactly where at the moment but once our party was assembled I was to lead them to Saumur on the Loire and receive further instructions from none other than Yolande of Aragon, Grand Duchess of the House of Anjou. It was on this account that I had been granted access to the fortress at Sierck les Bains as the Duke of Lorraine in waiting was of the House of Anjou. In my purse I carried a signed and sealed letter of marque and reprisal from Yolande herself. Elisabeth had given this to me personally along with the safe keeping of her only daughter Yvette who would assist me in the venture by using her psychic powers. Now I waited.

It was well past midnight, an owl hooted and the Moon shone high in the sky overhead. I pulled my black fur lined woollen cloak tighter around my body as I stood near the brazier giving out its glowing life preserving warmth. My face stung with the cold but roasted when too close to the fire. We shared a little bread and cheese to keep the wolves of hunger at bay. This had become a nightly ritual as by day I made myself scarce for no one was to have the slightest inkling of our mission. English and Burgundian spies were everywhere. Trust no one had become my motto. As far as Metz was concerned I was on business with out ally Luxembourg. This had become accepted and a routine part of my job as Sieur d' Tichemont.

I suddenly detected a noise and immediately drew my ★★★★★★★ sword and came en garde. My two companions at arms levelled their halberds and shouted out a challenge.

"Who goes there? Surrender up the password of the watch or suffer the consequences."

"Hawkmoon!" Came the reply in a female pitched tone that I recognised instantly. It was Yvette's distinctive voice, steady, calm and in total command. I knew that she was safe and not under a captive’s duress. We had agreed a false password that would indicate that such a scenario was afoot and thus allow us to act accordingly in order to save her.

"The Goshawk flies free and the lion prowls the night!" This voice had a distinctive German accent to it and I knew immediately that it was my old comrade Johannes. He had made it up river with our mutual companion Matthias Habicht a Swiss mercenary. As they neared the firelight I could see that each had bought three trusted men at arms as instructed. Lilly led the way with the hood of her black fur lined cloak pulled up over her head and carrying a small candle lit lantern. She had cleverly masked the light from our eyes until the very last minute in order to not attract unwanted attention.

"Greeting Johannes and Matthias, you made it! Wonderful to see you both, a little delayed but here now and safe." I was genuinely pleased to see them as I had not done so since the Dauphin's coronation when we had gone our separate ways.

"I received your letter in early December and came with all speed." Matthias spoke in warm tones. He was an extremely strong stocky man of good courage and excellent wit. "Travelling down the Rhine is always swift and I reached Koblenz within the week. Business is quiet this time of year as the campaigning season is over so I am free until the Count summons me." He paused to heat his hands by the fire.

"Good to see you my old friend, welcome!" I embraced him warmly and could feel that he was fully armed and ready for action at a moments notice.

"Apologies for the delay Robert but we had to wait for a fair wind to make it up steam, the Mosel is in winter flood and the current strong. Schloβ Eltz sends its greetings and again I am hoping for a little action to cure the winter boredom. One tires of eating and drinking too much. It is not good for the health and one becomes fat and lazy." Johannes spoke with a clipped Germanic tone and was as ever to the point. He would provide the logical thought approach to any problem we would face. Matthias was more down to earth, good in a tricky situation as he could talk his way out of anything. We had a deep soul connection of some sort but as yet I had not thought further on the matter.

After a suitable pause to make acquaintances with the men at arms I addressed the troops.

"Welcome one and all, we are about to embark on a dangerous mission with little reward. I will outline the plans as much as I know and after that if any wish to leave they may do so for this may not be to the liking of all.

We will take on supplies at my home city of Metz and then we will make for Saumur on the Loire to learn further instructions as to our exact target. In order to avoid difficult questions we will disguise ourselves as Knight Hospitaliers of the Holy order of Saint John. This will be accepted without question by the English Goddams when we enter their territory as we surely will. That is when it becomes dangerous. If we stick together we will have a much greater chance of success.

Our guide will be Marie "Yvette" Elisabeth Görlitz only daughter of my Liege Lord Elisabeth Görlitz, Dowager Duchess of Luxembourg. Every man here will swear a sacred oath on what ever they hold to be holy to protect and defender her to the death whatever the peril."

After the last part there were one or two murmurs but these were soon quelled by Yvette who spoke up bravely. Yvette pulled back her hood so that all could see her youthful face in the glow of the firelight she paused dramatically then spoke with eloquence and passion. Her beauty commanded respect as did her station in life.

"I may have the body of a frail woman but I have the heart and soul of a princess of the House and lineage of Luxembourg. I have abilities that can see beyond the normal world and I shall guide you faithfully and true, so help me God and the Holy Trinity. We go to free a prisoner who at this very moment is being tortured and cruelly abused by the English having been betrayed by the Burgundians and their avarice. It is a Holy crusade that we embark on and our souls shall win eternal redemption for our pains and suffering. Who is with me?"

Then a pause ensued which although only lasting seconds seemed like hours. Then one of Johannes' men Ruprecht of Müden by name stepped forward and said, "Aye sweet lady I will follow you!" the prevailing silence broke and so everyone with one voice acclaimed Yvette as their "Elven Leader Draconis" in this mission.

I smiled and was much relieved at this turn of events for I wanted the unanimous trust of all. Yvette had stolen the show, her intelligence, beauty and oratory had welded the men into a single unit. Smiling yet still serious she addressed us all again, "Thank you, my army may be small but what we lack in number we make up for in quality. I commend you all." With this everyone cheered. "You will take your orders from Robert des Armoises who is my chosen field commander and then your own knightly Lords. Now we must away to the boat and set sail before dawn for Metz."

With that she replaced her fur lined black hood and stepped back into the shadows. Leading with the lamp Yvette set off back down the sloped cobbled street in shadow of the curtain walls. As I went to move off last in line the rose coloured archway appeared and I suddenly found myself in broad daylight and another +30 degrees Celsius of heat.

"Where are you going Yann? We've only just got here!" DD's concerned voice brought me crashing back to the here and now with a wallop.

"Sorry I wasn't quite with you my maths angel." I abruptly did an about turn and resumed my position at the Tour de l'Artillerie gate. "How long have I been gone, Lilly?" I asked to ease my confusion.

"Only about a minute." She replied looking at DD.

"Ah I get it!" DD said with a smile as she suddenly understood what had happened. "You can tell us all about it after we finish our tour. I think we should get our money's worth." with that she winked and laughed.

"Absolutely!" Lilly added and stepped off through the Tour de l'Artillerie gate and continued up the inclined slope to the chateau. The layout was that of a large semi circle with the flat side facing the river. Even though the towers had been shortened somewhat they still gave an impression of the power and majesty of the fortress in its hay day. Continuing up the inclined slope we turned left under a small arch immediately in front of the arsenal magasin des vivres et des armes and entered into the large flat courtyard area of the chateau. The views over river were spectacular and gave us a clear sight both ways as it was situated at the apex of the bend in the river. It was well chosen and a perfect strategic site.

After walking around the vestiges of the grand buildings that once existed we stretched out onto the grass in the sun. The day had proved highly successful so far and Lilly outlined her plan to have some lunch in the restaurant by the quay side and then we would continue on to Metz by way of Thionville.

It was now around one o'clock so we descended the slope and entered the town once more. The walk to the car was considerably easier as it was down hill all the way. Turning into Place Jean-de-Morbach we entered the restaurant La Vieille Porte – The Old Gate. Lilly enquired as to the availability of a table for three and this proved no problem as it was a quiet Monday.

The decor was modern and fresh, stylish black modern upholstered chairs surrounded the crisp white linen table clothes. Grey serviettes complimented the grey and yellow abstract paintings that graced the walls of the restaurant and modern tracked spotlights shone their beams down from the ceiling to highlight the sparkling glasses and silverware.

Everything met with our approval. We chose Le menu du jour and chatted over a glass of house red as we waited for the entree. Water was provided separately and much appreciated as we had built up quite a thirst walking in the hot morning sunshine. It was now time to relax so I related my experience to the girls in the form of a story acting out the parts.

The meal was delightful and extremely good value at €14.50 a head. I opted for the obligatory cafe cognac after the assortment of cheeses; the perfect way to end the meal.

Lilly settled the bill and DD and I gave her €40 to cover the tip and our meals. "Time to go my enfants terrible!" Lilly obviously liked that part of the story. She was excited to hear the details of her speech and the response of the men at arms. The boost to her confidence was visible and she felt a little safer in the new knowledge that they would protect and defend her to the death.

Leaving the restaurant after complimenting the chef on an excellent meal we sauntered to the car. After a last look downstream at the vineyard slopes and then the chateau we started our journey to Metz by following the riverside road to Königsmacker and beyond that to Thionville.

In the back I put my arm around DD and whispered in her ear, "We are taking you home my love."

Feb 03, '12
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