Sainte Barbe Gate
It was 3 o'clock by the time we arrived in Metz. Lilly drove straight off of the Autoroute de Lorraine-Bourgogne into the old part of the city via the Pont ElbÃ© bridge.
"This is the Rue Sainte Barbe." No sooner had Lilly informed us than we were across the next longer bridge the Pont de Thionville. I had always been fascinated by the way Metz had been founded on the Moselle where it contains a number of mid stream islands of varying sizes, some large, some small all interconnected by a series of bridges that join the north bank of the river to the south and the old city.
We approached a large roundabout at Les Iles and took the second exit into Boulevard du Pontiffroy. Lilly was looking for the old Sainte Barbe gate which had been home to Robert and Jehanne des Armoises from 1436 to 1453 when she passed away due to a plague like illness. The only time she was away was for more adventures during their third year of marriage when her fighting spirit got the better of her for the best part of a year. After many adventures in the VendÃ©e area of France she became Captain of the Guard for the notorious Gilles de Rais but left quickly when she discovered his murdering occult ways, after that she went to Paris to see the Dauphin Charles VII now king. When asked about "their secret" she was unable to answer correctly that she was his half sister and so she was exposed as not being the royal protÃ©gÃ© of Yolande dâ€™AragÃ³n and the saviour of Orleans. Humiliated and made to confess in public she finally made her way back to the loving arms of Robert in Metz and settled down in 1440. That was when the door was carved as Robert was so elated to have her back. He loved her so much yet he wished never to stifle her beautiful adventurous free spirit. They then lived many a happy year over the Sainte Barbe gate and from that time she called herself Jehanne de Lys, the Lady des Armosies of Tichemont and even had the arms of Jeanne dâ€™Arc displayed over the gate where they lived, as she was indeed the peasant girl daughter of Jacques dâ€™Arc and Isabelle RomÃ©e.
As we drove I knew that we would tune into those happy and tragic memories as soon as we set foot in that place. It was therefore with mixed apprehension that I entered the old city of Metz once again. DD was blissfully unaware of what was I already knew and that was as it should be for I wanted her to discover the information for herself first hand and to enjoy the journey to revelation that would undoubtedly take place. The quest had become all consuming and was exponentially gathering pace. I was prepared to trust Lilly 100% as she was the navigator, her psychic intuition sharp as a razor. She had planned this to the last detail.
"The museum closes at five, so we need to go straight there once we have parked. I want DD to see the door firsthand." Lilly sounded excited and this infectious enthusiasm communicated perfectly to DD as she resonated in total harmony with all the information.
Within minutes we drove over the Pont des Grilles and into the Sainte Barbe quarter of the old city proper. Lilly turned immediately left into Rue des Remparts then at the next junction Lilly turned right then lthe next eft into Rue du General Fournier adjacent to a distinctive red surfaced football pitch. As we entered the city wall area DD commented on the unusual amount of greenery and space. I explained that it had been part of the geographical history of Metz to keep this part clear due to the needs of defence and river flooding. Several old maps show this and I offered to show them to her on my computer later.
The road was lined with commuter cars parked to the right. Lilly finally located a vacant spot and parked the car neatly nose first into an available gap.
"This is the Pont Sainte Barbe! We are actually parked on the bridge of the barbican gate house. Look there is the railway line going north crossing over us on its own bridge just in front of us." She then leapt enthusiastically out of the car to check her bearings. "It's exactly as I saw in my dreams, not bad driving using my inbuilt psych-nav if I say so myself."
"Absolutely perfect, most impressive Lilly you are a marvel. I thought you had been here before. This is so exciting I'm getting goose bumps already!" DD embraced her with a big hug.
"It doesn't look much now but you have to imagine how it was 600 years ago. It was a major defensive work covering the north east sector of the city and ran along the west bank of the River Seille from its confluence with the Moselle to the south side of the city. Porte Allemande is just up there on the right and beyond that the Mazelle gate near the modern railways station.â€ Lilly added rapidly as she pointed out the geography. She had certainly done her homework or rather her headwork I thought to myself; very impressive indeed!
"Porte Allemande is where our adventure started, Ã‰glise Sainte SÃ©golÃ¨ne is just over there back the way we came and Place Jeanne d'Arc is right opposite it. Beyond that and to the right is MusÃ©e La Cour d'Or - Metz MÃ©tropole our destination.â€ Lilly continued brimming with enthusiasm.
â€œWhat a brilliant place to park! I thought we were going to have to walk a long way to reach our goal. You are a total gem, I could kiss you Lilly!" I was euphoric and so overwhelmingly happy to be back in Metz with at last full conscious knowledge of my life as Robert des Armoises, Sieur de Tichemont.
"If there is any kissing to be done, I will be doing it Yann Baillieu!" DD suddenly grabbed me from behind and then started to tickle under my arms. I immediately wriggled and was amazed at how she knew my one and only weak spot?
"Look at you my brave Sir Knight; reduced to a quivering wreck by a mere woman!" Lilly found the whole episode hilarious and reached for her camera to capture my momentary but pleasurable discomfort.
"Not fair, thereâ€™s two of you and only one of me!" My protestations fell on deaf ears and just made the girls laugh harder. As DD's face came closer to mine I smiled and then kissed her long and passionately on the lips. That did the trick, she immediately lost concentration, let go of her under arm grip and embraced me fully. "Welcome home my love." I said softly and with tender emotion then kissed her again long and hard.
Click went Lilly's camera surreptitiously, "Another one for the family album when you two are grey and old; what fun!" She declared triumphantly.
The moment lâ€™amour fou over, we recovered ourselves and set about gathering our equipment from the car. The distant hum of traffic hardly disturbed the tranquil atmosphere of the bridge and the birdsong in the park like green space that was now the Sainte Barbe gate. Time was pressing so we set off at pace back towards the city and past the red football pitch. We would return later to explore the city ramparts and the old city wall in full as they had no human closing time. Now we focused objectively and exclusively on getting to the museum and â€˜ourâ€™ door.
We marched purposely along the curved Rue Marchant to Ã‰glise Sainte SÃ©golÃ¨ne and then crossed over the road into Place Jeanne d'Arc. The distinctive bronze fountain still squirted its narrow jets of water into the ornamental shallow dish shaped bowl that formed its centre piece. The sound of the trickling overflow as it cascaded into the hexagonal stone pool beneath came as lilting music to my ears in DDâ€™s presence. Yet, I had no time to stop and stare. On we marched relentlessly into Rue des Trinitaires past a trompe-lâ€™oeil fresco of three men hauling a large seascape painting up the side of a building. Coming to the next junction we turned immediately right into Rue du Haut Poirier at the end of which stood the museum entrance.
It was now nearly four oâ€™clock, plenty of time to visit the door. My pulse was racing, I found myself holding DD's hand tightly, the same way that a nervous school child holds the hand of a designated partner when queuing on a school outing. Lilly purchased the tickets which came to â‚¬13,80 and we entered. She appeared just as excited as us to be back. She would be the witness to the supreme moment that DD myself and the door would finally be reunited again as one entity in material reality. It would be such a special moment in history.
Rushing headlong through the many exhibits of the museum we headed directly for the medieval section heedless of the other exhibits. Then our personal climatic moment suprÃªme arrived as we reverently approached La Porte. The sacred memorial to our love, carved in perpetuity so that the world and a future â€˜usâ€™ can see its poignantly beautiful message, an eternal message of our love calling from beyond the grave.
In silence it lay at an angle in its resting place, waiting for the day that we would return. Tears welled up in DD's eyes as she felt the pure emotion of that moment and knew truly that she had loved and was loved. It was a sublime moment in time, a moment like no other; the reunion of lost twin souls that had been cast adrift in the tempestuous seas of time and space to wander as rudderless ships with no purpose or direction but now somehow as if by a miracle the true compass of their love had brought them safe home again.
Our faces mirrored the detailed wooden carving perfectly. Lilly arranged us in the exact same position and began happily snapping away with her camera for all she was worth.
"Closer, closer, lower, lower, look towards each other, that's it perfect. Amazing, I can hardly believe what I'm seeing through my lens you are still the same. My you two have aged well. You donâ€™t look a day over 600!"
Her laughter made the camera shake and blurred one of the photographs. "I'll take that again. I must stop laughing at my own jokes when working!"
Finally after reviewing the shots and video footage Lilly was satisfied that she had captured the definitive images for posterity. "This is going to make such a great story for the paper! A tale l'amour like no other, the readers will love it! It is a shame we can't buy the door and take it back to Lille."
On reflection I said, "That would be lovely Lilly but this is truly where it belongs as it not far from where we once lived and it was created."
"It is nice that the public can see it for it is a universal story of love that belongs to everyone." DD added magnanimously as she smiled at me with her sparkling blue eyes.
"And where would we put it? We are not even married or live in the same house even." I added thinking as ever of the practicalities.
"That may change!" DD was quick to reply and winked and smiled lovingly at me.
I blushed like a young girl.
"Madame des Armoises is as quick and forceful as ever I see!" Lilly joined in using her incisive wit to underscore the truth of the matter and aid my discomfort yet again. "Some things never change, past, present and future they are all the same, there is only the eternal NOW and you two are married, itâ€™s just that it happened in 1436! You are the same people inside. We shall have to re-write future laws to include a spiritual as well as a physical union."
Time and events were blurring into one. Perhaps this is what they meant by the 2012 effect? We are learning to deal with our multidimensional existence in a totally new reality. Perhaps it is the reality that has always been but we just didn't recognise it? As all these heavy thoughts permeated my head DD just smiled as she gazed into my eyes and then kissed me. It was a long lingering passionate kiss which was worthy of Auguste Rodin and that sealed our rediscovery of the door perfectly.
Click went the camera, "Ah perfect! It's made me go all shivery." Lilly whispered, "That is going to look so good in black and white; very artistic! I might even win a prize with that one?"
Finally we stood for several long minutes hand in hand staring at the door and the carvings of ourselves as we once were; ourselves looking at ourselves from the perspective of another time and place the same yet different. For me personally the quest was over. This was the pinnacle; anything else would now be the icing on the cake.
An hour passed before we made our way reluctantly out of the museum and back onto the street. Tourists walked to and fro without an inkling of the miraculous moment that had just taken place. Perhaps I would write a book one day to tell our story. Yes I would! The idea came rushing into my head in that second and I resolved to carry it through once I had retired from La Voix du Nord. It would be a story of love interwoven with the medieval history of France. It would be a story like no other ever written. I would call it La Porte.
My thoughts were suddenly interrupted by an enthusiastic Lilly exclaiming, "Let's take DD to see the Graoully in Rue Taison it is only just up here on the right."
"Yes why not, it is after all part and parcel of Robert des Armoises for sure. We can tell her about the legend and the dragon connection with Metz." I added in agreement. This prompted a sudden look of interest from DD which spurred us on to make a positive decision.
Walking back the way we had come to Rue des Trinitaires we turned right instead of left and continued to a small Y junction. Taking the right hand fork we continued into Rue Taison. At the next junction Lilly pointed out that the Cathedral of Saint Etienne de Metz was just down the road to our right.
Then we saw the Graoully, the two winged, two legged green dragon suspended over Rue Taison. DD looked up and stiffened as her subconscious was delivered another jolt from the past.
"I know this. It has been in my dreams since I was a little girl." She said in a hushed voice. "Iâ€™m sure it also has an allegorical meaning?â€
"You are quite right on both accounts." I added quickly ceasing the opportunity to explain for we were all involved in the intrigues of the dragon princesses and their political machinations.
"We still are!" Lilly said then laughed, "Once a dragon princess, always a dragon princess." With that she looked at DD and winked knowingly. She then proceeded to relate the tale of the vanquishing of the dragon by Saint Etienne and the allegorical meaning of the triumph of Christianity over Paganism that it alluded to in the minds of the simple country folk.
"Yes the Graoully or Vouivre is a member of the dragon family, and is considered to be one of the most beautiful species of winged serpents.
According to old legends and traditions, this mythical reptile lived in swamps, lakes, abandoned chateaux and monasteries of Franche-ComtÃ© - Doubs and Jura; Burgundy - Yonne, Nievre, CÃ´te-dâ€™Or and SaÃ´ne-et-Loire; Lorraine - Meuse and other such regions of France, Belgium, Switzerland; oh and not forgetting the Aosta Valley in Italy.
It is described as a dragon; part woman, part bird and part snake. The Vouivre wears a jewel in the middle of her forehead. This jewel is what allows her to see, and she can only be killed if it is stolen, although it is removed for bathing.
It is said, in an old story from Franche -ComtÃ© that a greedy and fearless man, living in the village of Mouthe, wanted the carbuncle for his own. He took the advice of an evil sorcerer who told him to slaughter a bull and steal the carbuncle from the Vouivre while she was busy drinking its blood. He did this successfully, but once he had the jewel, he refused to share its riches with the sorcerer or the people of the village and it turned into horse dung in his hands! It was said he smelled of dung for the rest of his days, and the Vouivre, whose power was diminished without her magical stone, went into hiding.
Yes my little children, the Vouivre wears but one eye in the middle of her forehead, and that is a carbuncle; when she stops to drink at a fountain or bathes in a lake, she lays it aside; that is the time to possess yourself of the jewel, and she is blind ever after.
The Christians demonised the Vouivre even further by turning her into the scary dragon you see above us!
Oh and the Vouivre flies through the air like red-hot iron, what ever that means?
Of course this story was for the peasants. We know better, the Vouivre was in reality dragon princess and the jewel her third eye â€“ the pineal gland which allows her to be psychic and see multiple dimensions and other realities beyond this physical world. DNA is the key. You are either born a dragon princess or not. It cannot be attained. It is our birthright.â€
DD found the story eerily fascinating for she was now tuning into her own past memories which were surfacing by the minute and becoming ever clearer as she felt her own dragon DNA abilities and focused on the artefacts of the surrounding Metz cityscape.
After Lilly finished telling the story we continued on into Rue de Ladoucette it was now gone six o'clock and we talked of our plans for the night.
"I think DD and I will spend the night in the Tour des Esprits, the Tower of Spirits, variously also called mysteriously by the locals the Tower of Witches, the Tower of Sorcerers or the Tower of the Mind!" I used a theatrically spooky voice to make it sound more interesting and macabre. Since discovering an old manuscript quoting the tower's many names in my research I had become totally fascinated with the complex etymology of this other worldly place as it was exactly in tune with our quest and our own discoveries.
We can have dinner first and then wander around the Sainte Barbe ramparts when it is dark. It is a shame we can't light a small fire, that would be nice but I don't think the authorities would take too kindly to that in a public park!" Lilly and DD laughed as it seemed so absurd now that we lived in a world of authority with rules over such trivial matters.
Lilly spoke next, "Thatâ€™s fine, I shall sleep in the car then, one night won't hurt and we all have to be at Gare Lorraine TGV by eight in the morning otherwise we will be charged for another whole day on the car. We can then head to Saumur and a nice hotel to get cleaned up; modern life does have some compensation."
"I can use my phone to book the hotel and check the TGV times. "DD added wishing to join, "Even if the restaurant has no WiFi connection I can use my download allowance to find the information." She smiled and her eyes flashed a deep azure blue. It was a glimpse of the determined Jehanne des Armoises of old. She was now definitely part of our team adventure and rediscovering that sense of excitement that had been all but washed away by bland modern life.
It sounded a good plan so we headed on into the appropriately named Rue Serpenoise where we found a large impressive department store which looked as though it would probably sell travel blankets. I was sure we would need them come nightfall and especially in the damp cold early morning.
Whilst browsing at the department store we chanced upon a 1/6th scale collectors doll dressed as a Vouivre!
The quantum coincidence was all too much so I weakened and purchased it on behalf of DD and myself and then we gave it to Lilly for it reminded us of her and it would make a nice souvenir of our Metz adventures for her to keep. Dressed in a stunning red Gothic dress with long dark chestnut hair and a black net petticoat the doll looked every centimetre a dragon princess; the most distinctive feature being a jewel on her forehead representing her third eye. The likeness was so spooky after what Lilly had just been discussing that I could hardly believe my eyes. Strangely it somehow balanced the gruesome brutal image of the green dragon Vouivre hanging in Rue Taison just up the road. Finally after a lot of rummaging we found some tartan fleece travel rugs in the sport department that were light yet waterproof on one side, perfect for the night manoeuvres that we had planned.
It was now time to eat so we walked back along Rue de Ladoucette and back into the street of the green dragon, Rue Taison. The Graoully still hung menacingly overhead like the sword of Damocles it could only be judged by the outcome of its actions good or bad with and not by purely preconceived judgemental dogma. On the one hand it was said to be a symbol associated with Satan, plague and pestilence and then on the other it was associated with strength and protection in battle, it alluded to the power of the dragon princesses and their ability to see into other dimensions and the future. The Graoullyâ€™s actions in life would determine whether it was good or evil? Handsome is as handsome does as with dragons, people and all things. Perhaps this was why Robert des Armoises had adopted it for his enigmatic heraldic emblem? It had certainly served him well as a badge of mark and was sown onto the clothing of all those who served as men at arms under his orders. Either way it did add a certain mystique to his small command of the Sainte Barbe gate.
My Vouivre was bound to make an appearance tonight in my time slip, I felt sure of that. We would wander the ramparts through the Devil's gate into Devil's alley and make our way to the Tour des Esprits after dark and see what transpired? I would tell the girls more of my insights over dinner which would set the scene and prime the night to conjure forth its dark secrets.
Turning left at the end of Rue Taison we leisurely walked down to the riverside in order to find a pleasant restaurant in which to pass the evening. Lilly knew of several that came highly recommended, it was just a question of price and availability. We could easily stay until dark as the meal was something to be savoured and enjoyed not rushed and hurried as in other cultures.
Entering the Rue des Piques Lilly pointed out Thierry Saveurs et Cuisine the atmosphere looked excellent as was the interesting gourmet section of the menu. It appeared exactly as described on the menu - Bistrot chic fusion food and wines, perfect for a delightful evening. Reading through we decided to go for the Ardoise du Marche which looked excellent value at â‚¬26,50. Lilly ordered for the three of us after we had decided and DD carefully chose the wines to suit, we then settled down for an interesting evening of discussion and conjecture as to what events would follow in the darkness.
It was now a little past ten when we left the restaurant in a very relaxed mood and started to stroll along the river side. I had wanted to catch the last of the summer twilight so that we could gather our bearings. It was a beautiful clear sky and the waxing rising Moon provided plenty of light for our journey. We were not on the Moselle proper but rather the lesser branch used navigation that led from the small harbour along the north side of the old city and rejoined the main river at Saint Julien les Metz. These were the old medieval quays that Metz had based its independence and wealth on in the Moyen age. The first was the tree lined Quai Felix MarÃ©chal that then led to the Quai du Rimport this had less trees and joined with the Pont des Grilles that we had entered the old city by that very afternoon. Beyond was the Sainte Barbe quarter of the city, I mused that the best thing about geography was that it hardly ever changes when measured in the ephemera of human lifetimes; most convenient.
The rampart walls and towers started immediately beyond Pont des Grilles. They were much reduced in height but as with the geography they were still where they had always been 600 years ago. The atmosphere changed immediately which was something we all felt. Lilly declared again that she would stay with us until around 2am but after that we were on our own as she was tired from driving and our Luxembourg foray. I was happy with that as was DD. We needed some time together so that we could connect with our own time frame and see what we could discover?
With Lilly I hoped that we would tune into the gathering of the company so that I could identify the names of the men at arms under my command. That was the one piece of information missing from the puzzle that I desired before we proceeded to Saumur and thence to Rouen. Who were my three chosen men? Men who I had asked to risk life and limb in a calculated gamble to save the heroine of France La Pucelle.
The Graoully, the Habicht and the Lion all three houses would be represented and recognised by their own distinctive heraldic devices and badges of mark. They would be worn as recognisable insignia on the armour and leather nailed jacks of the men and my friends, all comrades in arms. Also each would wear over the top a disguise of black hooded robes with the white radiant cross of the Chevaliers noir de Metz. Thus we would pass easily as Knight Hospitaliers of the Order of St John and so avoid the suspicion of the Burgundians and English Goddams whilst on our mission.
As we walked and talked in the warm night air darkness settled with black inky fingers and the street lights twinkled ever more brightly as reflections on the gently rippling surface of the river. The cloaked city now took on a magical quality that seemed timelessly enchanting and enticing. Modernity with its infernal machinery receded and we began to travel back in time. Like silent shadows Lilly, DD and I began our haunting of the ramparts. In a ritualised ceremony we would visit each tower one by one and talk softly to the stones, the same stones that had witnessed our passing all those many years before. Just touching the stones would secure our connection with that past.
As we proceeded I could feel myself reconnecting with my own past self. How often I had walked these same walls as part of my watch. Countless times I had toured the curtain walls to ensure my men were at their posts, awake and alert. Now I was performing this duty once more and like a Necromancer of old summoning dark spirits I began to feel their phantom presence.
"Oh my God look at those orbs of light." DD cried out in genuine amazement.
"Ssh... stand silent and see what happens, radiate positive thoughts, donâ€™t scare them. I will try to get some shots on camera." Lilly focused her lens and snapped away but far from being shy the orbs came closer and closer.
"I can see them mon Dieu, they are my men. I recognise them. They wear my badge. Can you see their faces?" I could scarcely believe my own eyes as I whispered hardly daring to breathe. I desperately sought confirmation from DD that I wasn't hallucinating from the Absinthe aperitif and too much cognac consumed during the meal.
"Yes, I can see them clearly too." DD answered back. "Each of them has an individual face, head and shoulders within the orb. They seem to recognise me." As silent as soap bubbles on a summer's breeze the orbs moved towards DD.
I stood there transfixed then they came towards me and gathered around in twoâ€™s and threeâ€™s. One even took his cap off in salute as he recognised me. I then suddenly realised why the locals had named this corner bastion of the ramparts the Porte au Diable de Metz - The Devil's Gate! Perhaps these trapped souls would not be so charitable to those they didn't recognise for they in their own minds were still performing their faithful duty beyond the grave. Gathering my thoughts and emotions, I saluted my men and told them quietly to stand down, I thanked them for their service and assured them that all was well and with that bade them go to the light. At first nothing happened as they were reluctant to leave my side but eventually they did. In turn each of the orbs brightened, flickered and then went out leaving us totally alone in the darkness again.
A sense of peace descended on the place. "I suppose it is the concentration of their soul energy that we can see? Like the much illustrated halo often illustrated in medieval manuscripts and paintings."
The girls mulled over my insight whilst Lilly reviewed her film. "Well remarkably what ever they were they have shown up on the camera. Zooming in you can even see individual faces quite clearly!" Lilly passed her camera to us and we saw the evidence for ourselves. Young and old they were there as plain as a pike staff. It was yet another piece of a very big multidimensional puzzle that we were routinely navigating with ease and increasing excitement.
We then turned the corner into the AllÃ©e de la Tour au Diable de Metz and headed along the Seille to the Pont Sainte Barbe. The show continued unabated as more orbs came to visit us. Lilly was ecstatic and continued shooting away with her camera. Her concentration was so intense that she did so in complete silence.
On the way DD and I paused by a fortified small bridge with three pillars that I did not remember from our time. It was now only a short walk to where we used to live and I wanted to compose myself for the big moment as the Sainte Barbe gate was next on our phantasmagorical tour macbre.
Holding hands tightly DD and I started towards our home as it was some six centuries ago. The trees beckoned us onward. The silence was broken only by a freight train passing slowly by on the railway track leading northward. The noise of the steel on steel reminded me of swords being deflected off of heavily armoured knights. It was that same grating texture of metallic sound. I could feel the metal grinding my teeth as the noise penetrated my being.
When we reached the actual position of the gate I suddenly realised that Lilly was no longer with us. I called her name but there was no reply. DD began to get concerned as did I after several minutes for there was no sign of her. I switched my torch on and started scanning the undergrowth, the earthen mounds and the trees. Wooden sculptures in the park cast eerie shadows that played tricks on my mind.
"I bet she is time tripping?" I whispered just loud enough so that DD could hear me clearly in the inky darkness.
"Sheâ€™s over here!" DD shouted back.
I walked towards her voice and came to a clump of trees. Shining my torch beam frantically to and fro I suddenly saw DD kneeling over Lilly. "Any damage?" I asked immediately. "Airway, breathing, pulse?" My voice was steady as it went into the well rehearsed man down drill.
"She seems alright. Her pulse is slow and her breathing shallow but detectable. I'm frightened to shake her in case she is startled and becomes shocked." DD said with deep concern and feeling. She now knew the symptoms of our time tripping and not to disturb the experiencer.
"Good girl DD, we will just monitor her. Put a blanket over her and grab one yourself. We may be a while?â€ I pulled the tartan fleece travel blankets out of their large carrier bag that had been supplied by the department store and passed two of them to DD. She gently placed one over Lilly, fleece side to skin and tucked the waterproof side under her as best she could. Then she placed hers on the ground next to Lilly. We huddled together to share warmth and I spread my blanket over the two of us.
"Perfect all warm and water tight now all we have to do is wait a while." I kissed DD on the cheek in reassurance and lay back holding her close so we could observe the myriad of stars and galaxies that floated across the night sky above us. An hour passed and still Lilly appeared to be sleeping like the dead. To pass the time DD and I caught up on our life stories. I wanted to know everything about her as she did of me. Everything seemed the same; we were twin souls and without a doubt made for each other.
Another 40 minutes went by and then all of a sudden Lilly began to wake up. Her breathing increased suddenly then her eyes flickered and opened.
"How long?" she said without pausing for another breath.
"About an hour twenty." I said sitting up and leaning over DD.
"That's not too bad, thanks for the blanket. I don't feel cold at all." Lilly then laid back in order to relax and stretch; I caught the moonlight reflecting in her eyes. For an instant she had an other worldly look about her. I couldnâ€™t help but wonder what she had seen? I knew however that I would have to wait a little longer whilst she gathered her thoughts.
"Don't mention it. Itâ€™s our pleasure.â€ DD said as she twisted over to face Lilly. â€œI tucked the blanket under you to gain the maximum benefit of the insulation as best I could." Lilly smiled. Then after several long minutes she was ready to speak so we all sat up together.
"It was amazing, lots of vivid detail of our meeting in Metz. I think I was meant to come here to this precise spot in order to connect with my medieval self. Perfect, I'm glad it is much warmer here it was so cold back there! I'm getting better at this time tripping it doesnâ€™t phase me anymore and strange to say I am actually enjoying it."
Lilly had obviously been back to January 1431 with snow on the ground as I had seen in Sierck les Bains. "What time is it?" She asked.
"Five to two." I answered as my iPhone lit up. "Perfect timing you said you would stay with us until two. It is just as though you set the alarm in your head to go off and wake you up in time."
"Yes something like that. Right I'm off then. It's time for you two to take to the scÃ¨ne de lâ€™histoire. The car is just along here if I'm not mistaken and I've got to drive in the morning. Take my rope you may need it?" Lilly reached deep into her rucksack that she had carefully placed on the grass beside her previously and after ferreting for a minute she extracted a neat coil of climbing rope which she gave to me. "Always useful I carry it everywhere, old habits die hard!" She said with a bemused giggle.
"Thanks I've got a feeling we might need it." I said gratefully and set about re-coiling it so that I could sling it around my body and over one shoulder. DD looked amazed as though Lilly had performed the most wonderful piece of magic ever. Lilly and I both interrupted simultaneously before DD could ask. "It's what we do!"
"I call it Lilly's rope trick." I added theatrically with a flourish. DD laughed and exclaimed, "Well that's a new one on me."
Smiling Lilly checked for the car keys and then bade us goodnight, "Sleep well mes enfants terribles and don't let the Vouivre bite!"
Please at her parting shot Lilly disappeared off into the darkness towards the car carrying her blanket and rucksack like the good soldier she truly was.
"See you bright and early I know where to find you; have fun!" Her last few disembodied words floated through the trees on the still night air and she was gone.
Quietly we rolled up the two remaining blankets and then continued our nocturnal journeying along the Seille towards the mysterious Tour des Esprits and the unknown frontier of our minds.