Avalon 9.1 Johanne, part 3 of 6

Lord Jean de Luxemburg greeted Lionel gruffly with the phrase, “You’re lucky.”  He explained.  “DuBary is due to arrive this afternoon with a thousand Flemish, so you are not the last one.”  Lionel said that was good to know, and he wanted to also know where Lord Jean wanted them in the marching order.  It was a practical question and would determine where his men would set their camp.

“Stick to the Paris Road.  I want you on the flank in case any of those Charles sympathizers in Champagne decide to come up and help the traitors at Compiegne.  If the Armagnac faction sends a force from the city or the fortresses around, I expect you to hold them long enough for the rest of us to reach the main Burgundian camp.”

“Do we have any reliable information about what we may be facing?” Lionel asked.  It seemed a natural question since his group would be exposed.

“We do not,” Lord Jean responded. “That is why as soon as DuBary arrives, I will be taking two hundred ahead up the road to Rouen to survey the area and look for weaknesses in Bedford’s and Philip’s lines that we may have to reinforce.  We may have to move up on sudden notice, so be prepared.”

“Lord.”  Lionel gave a slight bow.  “And in our rear?  I understand many towns from Troyes to Reims have come out for Charles.”

“Soissons has come out for Philip and the Burgundian cause.  They repulsed the advances of the Maid, so our immediate concern is your flank, not the rear.”

A bishop who stood quietly that whole time, interrupted.  “I believe Soissons is more afraid of retribution, being surrounded by English and Burgundian territory.  Who knows where their actual sympathies lie?”

Lord Jean grunted and suggested he might tell DuBary to guard the rear, just in case.  Katie, who stood beside Lockhart, a couple of steps behind Lionel, wondered why the bishop would sew distrust in the circumstances.  Soissons declared for the Burgundians.  Why suggest they might not be sincere, unless the bishop was secretly working for the French?  She listened as Lord Jean frowned and spoke.

“My guest is Pierre Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais.  He just returned from England with the young Henry VI.  Henry is at Rouen where Bedford hopes to declare him King of England and France, in accord with the Treaty of Troyes.”  Lord Jean shook his head like he was not sure if that would help or hurt the cause against Charles.  He shrugged a bit.  He came across as a man who made his choice.  He allied with the English, and there was no turning back.

“Good to meet you,” the bishop said, and stared at Lockhart and Katie.  The rest of the travelers stayed with the captains and Lionel’s army on the road, but Katie, Lockhart, and Captain Jules accompanied Lionel to meet with Lord Jean.  Lionel got the message and introduced his companions.

“Robert and Katherine Lockhart.  They are German and Swedish and are with a group of Slavic pilgrims headed toward Paris.  They have two black Africans with them as well—good Christians, not Muslims, I assure you.  I found them at Wandomme and let them travel with my men.  They had no idea what they were walking into.  I thought it my Christian duty to bring them safely, at least as far as I was going.”

“Good to meet you,” Katie said.

“God morgen alle,” Lockhart said, having struggled to find the right way to say good morning in mostly German to properly confuse things.

“God?” Lord Jean asked.

“Sorry,” Lockhart said.  “Guten is German.  God is Swedish.  I sometimes mingle them the way my people back home speak.”

Lord Jean shrugged with his eyebrows and turned away to holler.  “Liebulf!”  He said more softly.  “My second. He will bring the main body of troops while I survey the area ahead.  Liebulf.”  He walked off yelling.

“Good to make your acquaintance.” Bishop Cauchon tried to smile and step up, but everyone saw something crooked in that smile.

“And you,” Lionel said.  “But right now, I need to set my camp for the night.  Perhaps we will catch up later.  Come friends.”  As they headed off, they all kept looking back, like they were waiting to be out of earshot.  Lionel spoke first.  “Something wrong about that Bishop.  Jules?”

The captain spoke softly.  “It is not my place to judge a cleric, but just to look at him, I felt something dark. Do you know what I mean, dark?”

“Creepy,” Lockhart explained it with his own word and looked at Katie.

Katie walked quietly for a moment while she sorted the feeling she got from the man.  “Masters,” she said at last.  “Or demons, but I am beginning to think they are the same thing.”

People quieted when they reached their army from Wendomme.  They got busy.  Lionel divided his horse soldiers into three groups.  He had three captains.  One group served as a rear guard.  One served behind the center of the strung-out line where they put the wagons that carried all their supplies.  Lionel did not want the wagon to form their own train where they might drag out behind for miles.  One served near the front, but behind a group of veteran foot soldiers.

Roughly half of Lionel’s foot soldiers were either veterans or members of various night watches that served a few of the larger villages and couple of towns in his area.  These were men who knew enough to stick together and keep up with the army.  He tried to sprinkle them throughout the train where they could encourage the young and untried men to keep up.  Some of the green ones might otherwise have been tempted to string out like men on a Sunday stroll, and get there eventually.

At the front, he had a company of his best veterans under a captain-sergeant Jobarie.  They set the pace for the whole army, and while they did not exactly march in well trained lines, they at least looked something like soldiers.  At the very front, of course, Lionel, Captain Jules, and a dozen of the best horse soldiers rode.  They served as the point guard and protected their Liege Lord.  Lionel insisted the travelers ride with him.  He did not expect they would run into any trouble, and in fact, he spoke otherwise.

“If the forces of Charles set a trap on the Paris Road, they will let the point guard pass them by and wait to spring their trap on the actual army.  It is the way it is done.  A trap is not very good if you surprise a dozen men and let the army escape, or at least be forewarned.”

“Good to know,” Lincoln said.  “You know, we could help with the wagons.”  He pointed back toward the center of the train, but people ignored his suggestion.

Once the people got shifted around so they camped where they needed to be for the morning, it was mid-afternoon, and fires were already being lit for the night.  Jobarie came up with a dozen more men who would supplement the horse soldiers in keeping the night watch.  One man even admitted it was what he would be doing back home.  Jobarie went back to stay with his men, and the dozen horse soldiers, on foot, escorted the cooks from the wagons to the front, so they could prepare a feast for Lord Lionel and his guests.

Naturally, that was when Bishop Cauchon showed up with a “Hello friends,” that put Katie’s nerves on edge.  Nanette took one look at the man and blanched.  Something about him, his personality or something, felt wrong.  Lionel immediately came roaring up.

“No, no,” he yelled.  “We have been charged to guard the flank and move out front.  I don’t have men to waste providing an escort for your grace.  The road behind us is clear, but if you follow, it will have to be at your own risk, and at your own expense.  I have barely enough to feed this army and for these travelers I have agreed to escort.  There isn’t anything extra.”

One of the priests that rode with the bishop leaned over and whispered in the bishop’s ear.  The bishop pushed the man away and spoke out loud.  “Yes, I see the two Africans, but the rest look normal enough, including the blonde I met earlier.”  He smiled for Katie who did not smile back.  “I must say, though I am disappointed. I expected something more exotic, like maybe red hair, or something strange.”

“Well?” Lionel pushed forward in the face of the horses. “What is it going to be?  Will you go back to Lord Jean, or shall we escort you to the end of the line?”

“Calm yourself, Lord Lionel.  We are headed back to my diocese of Beauvais now that Charles’ army has passed by.  I thank you for clearing the Paris Road for us. I just wanted to stop and say hello before we set out.  We have a few hours and will make it to the village I can’t remember the name of by nightfall.”  He turned to Lockhart.  “You are headed to Paris, and where will you go from there?”

Katie and Nanette both covered Lincoln’s mouth as Lockhart spoke.  “Saint Martin’s, and then maybe toward Rome.”

“I see,” Bishop Cauchon smiled, but the look on his face said he knew Lockhart was not telling the whole truth.  “Too bad you will miss seeing how the siege of Compiegne turns out.”

“I am sure we will hear about it,” Katie responded.

Bishop Cauchon let out that wicked smile again and turned his horse to the road.  “Good luck in your journey, travelers or pilgrims as you may be.”  He started down the road followed by a handful of priests and clerics and another handful of soldiers.  When he was out of range, Katie finally opened up.

“Servant of the Masters.”

“A bishop of Christ?” Captain Jules felt the wrongness in the man but looked surprised all the same.

“He knows who we are,” Decker said.

“He mentioned red hair, like maybe he expected to see Boston and maybe some little ones in the camp,” Lockhart said.

“He called us travelers,” Sukki pointed out, but Lionel made her pause.

“I used the word travelers instead of pilgrims,” he said.  “I am sorry for that.”

“He appears to be demon possessed,” Nanette said, and shivered.

Captain Jules repeated himself.  “A bishop of Christ?”

One of the captains rode up with a report.  “I have the scouts ready to go out all along the line first thing in the morning.  Hopefully, we won’t be surprised by anyone sneaking up on our flank.  Um, do you know a bishop and his clerics stopped and talked with Jobarie?”

Lockhart’s and Lionel’s eyes met, and both showed the same suspicion.  Katie interrupted their thoughts before they could speak.

“Bishop Cauchon is the one who will try Johanne for heresy, for the English.  Of course, they will condemn her and kill her.  Years later the church will recognize its terrible mistake and the improper nature of the whole trial.  They will declare Johanne a saint.”

“Saint Joan,” Tony said.  “But that is the future we should not be talking about.  Sorry to burden you with that.  You should not say anything about that, ever.”

Lionel and Jules simply looked at each other.



The travelers head into a  war zone where they are forced to choose one side or the other. Don’t miss it. Happy Reading


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