5. Pierre the Wise

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'Each day is a new canvas to paint upon. Make sure your picture is full of life and happiness, and at the end of the day you don't look at it and wish you had painted something different.'
- Author Unknown -

oldman2Extract from Chaper 5: Pierre the Wise

Pierre is an honorary member of the clan, born to a rich merchant family he was a genius who taught in the richest courts in France. When sent to Aigues-Mortes in the Camargue, he falls in love with the count of Aigues-Mortes young wife. When the jealous count discovers this, he has Pierre kidnapped, tortured and blinded. Cast out into the street to die, he is found by some young Gypsies.

Count Bertrand de Aigues-Mortes knew all there was to know about this room, and as he approached Pierre; who now lay prone but once again conscious on the floor, groaning through his smashed and bloody lips.
He ordered his guards to manacle him to the wall and while this was being done, he pulled on a pair of heavily studded leather gloves.

After Pierre had been securely manacled, he advanced menacingly towards him. "I'm going to teach you a lesson," he told his prisoner in a very casual tone, picking up a heretic fork and began examining it carefully. "Your first lesson is that you must never chase another man's wife," he now shouted at Pierre, swinging the metal fork full force against his prisoner's left knee, shattering the kneecap. Pierre screamed, the pain he had so far suffered was nothing to what he now felt, and his fresh screams reverberated around the chamber. Lifting the metal instrument again, the Count once more swung it downwards, this time connecting with the right knee. The smash and splintering of bone was audible above the shackled mans screaming. "Lesson two," said the Count, now totally obsessed with his desire for revenge, "is that you never hold another man's wife in your arms." Raising his improvised weapon a third time, he brought it crashing down on Pierre's right arm snapping the bone cleanly in two. For Pierre, the pain was too much, his screaming ceased as he once more passed into a dark unconsciousness. The Count now crossed over to a large charcoal forge that was permanently placed in the centre of the dungeon. Once more he studied the heretic fork as if trying to decide if it could do whatever chosen task he had in mind.
It was obvious he thought it would, for he placed the fork in the heart of the glowing coals, ensuring that the two of the three metal prongs at the end was at the heart of the glowing coals. As he watched the metal slowly heating up, he ordered his guards to bring the prisoner back to conciseness. The guards rushed to obey, experts at their trade, they started to revive Pierre with a combination of water, gentle slaps and the whispering of his name. Slowly Pierre came round. Through puffed and swollen eyes from his first beating, he began to focus on the guards, then slowly on the Count. With his return to consciousness, the unbearable pain returned and Pierre begged the Count and guards for mercy, or at least a quick death to release him from this torture. His pleas fell on death ears, there was not going to be either mercy or a quick release from his suffering. Once again the Count stood before him, his gloved hand holding the heretic fork that had already wreaked so much havoc. Pierre's swollen eyes focused on the Counts hand that gripped the fork in his heavily padded gloves and followed the metal down to the glowing red hot tines at the end. As if in slow motion, he watched helplessly as the fork was raised to the level of his eyes. Dimly, he could just hear the Counts voice, telling him, that this was to be his third lesson, something about never looking at another man's wife. Despite the already excruciating existing pain, a new fear filled Pierre and it was so strong, it sent a shudder through his broken frame. Carefully the Count moved the glowing tip towards the level of Pierre's eyes. A heat so intense now became an unbearable addition to his already tormented body, and the last things Pierre was ever to see out of eyes that had brought so much beauty to the world, were two glowing fiery red orbs, expanding as they moved ever closer. Instinctively Pierre screwed his eyes closed, but it could be no defence. The indescribable, intense pain was accompanied by the smell of his burning flesh, and as the heat emanating from the metal caused the caked blood on his forehead to open and bubble, a loud scream rose from his bruised and battered lips and echoed throughout the dungeon. There is only so much pain any human being can endure. For some people, like soldiers who have been trained to withstand certain levels of pain, the tolerance is higher. But Pierre was no soldier, nor was he a hero. He was an intellectual who had fallen hopelessly in love with someone he should not have. As the scream left his lips, the searing white light started to fade, to be replaced by a dark void that he gladly plunged into, hoping that this would be the final release into the death he now so desperately sought. Standing back, Count Bertrand released his glowing metal fork upon which tendrils of flesh still sizzled. The rank smell of burning flesh permeated the air, causing a temporary wave of nausea to engulf him. "Take him down," he ordered his guards. They duly obeyed, then looked to their lord for further arrestinstructions. "Throw him outside the castle gates and there let him lie for the dogs to feed on." Abruptly, he turned and walked away out of the dungeon. As he made his way back to his chambers, he wondered how he would explain Pierre's disappearance to his children, and more importantly, what he would say to the Royal Court, where he knew Pierre was held in favour. Realising he would have to make up a credible story, and also ensure the guards kept their mouths shut, he started formulating his plans. As for his cheating spouse, her he would tell the truth. She must suffer for her infidelity and he would make sure she told no one else.

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