Chateau Comtal, Carcassonne
The sleepy little castle town of Carcassonne awakened early. From nearby villages came donkey carts laden with produce. In the air were sounds of wooden wheels; of bleating goats and braying donkeys trotting into market. By the time the church bells began ringing for the morning Angelus, merchants emerged like insects and commenced shouting their wares. At once, the soft hubbub of noises turned into an almost deafening cacophony of sounds. Another uneventful day in Carcassonne has begun.
Raengarde Galen, now 51 and plump as a fattened pig, pushed herself up in bed, her ears assaulted by the familiar noise. As steward of the Count of Carcassonne’s domains, she is bound to be up early in the morning to supervise the collection of tithes and tolls for the count’s treasury and. . . her own purse, of course. With great difficulty, she eased her obese body out of the bed and waddled slowly along the damp and somber passageway leading to the castle’s kitchen.
She was hungry—she always is. Living in this ‘hell-hole’ for nearly six years now had done it to her. Not enough food. Not enough servants. Apartments that are humid and cold. Cracked walls and loose bricks on the stone floors. Bah! Even the stable in her previous residence was better maintained!
Her mind drifted once again to the day she first arrived here. She was shocked when she was informed that she wouldn’t have a lady-in-waiting. It of course meant that from then on, she would be taking her own bath and wiping her own ass; a far cry from the comfort and luxury she had known in her son-in-law’s splendid court at Foix, her prior abode before the Count of Foix expelled her from the court.
If only the count hadn’t discovered. . .
Oh, well. No use thinking about such things now. Besides, if things go according to plan, she would be in a position far far superior than that of the count himself. Matter of fact, she’d even be in a position to dispossess him of his lands. On a mere whim. She smiled, relishing the thought.
When she landed in Carcassonne six years ago, she had thought that she was finished. She had been disgraced, stripped of a powerful position in a glittering court and worst, publicly humiliated. She had readily accepted her fate and resigned to spend the last days of her life in peace and quiet. She was just thankful she had come out of it alive.
But then Ermengarde killed herself, the silly fool. To many, including the Count Raymond, it was a great tragedy. She, however, had instantly smelled a great opportunity. Her Machiavellian mind rose to the occasion and a plan was born; a plan so audacious in nature that if it succeeds, the otherwise obscure house of Trencavel would be catapulted to the highest echelons of power in the kingdom. And she, of course, would be amongst those catapulted to the top. She would not wield the sword of power though; her grandson Raymond would do that for her. She would merely guide the hand that holds the sword, so to speak, making sure that its tip is pointing at the right enemies. Her enemies.
She had reached the kitchen at last. She started attacking all the pots and pans at once, leaving nothing undisturbed until she found something edible. She settled on a chicken’s thigh part, a leftover from last night’s meal. And it was while she was busy demolishing the poor chicken’s thigh that she came up with a decision: Today is a good day to act out the next part of her plans. Her perverted grandson has grieved enough.
Raengarde took another cursory glance at her surroundings. Like the rest of the castle, the kitchen was a run-down affair. “Chateau my ass.” She spat on the floor. “If anyone calls this hell-hole a chateau, then call me Cleopatra.”
Raengarde Galen laughed so hard at her own joke that spittle—and bits of chicken—flew from her mouth.
to be continued. . .
image credit: pinterest.com/artinpl