During the years, Richard honed his skills at the art of war. When he reached Count Theobald of Bordeaux’s castle, he immediately set up his siege machine. He started the assault by using the trebuchets to weaken the walls and the morale of those inside the castle. Next he brought up the siege towers, and archers assailed the men on the battlements. Miners tunneled beneath the walls to weaken the structure. The siege lasted only a short time before it was obvious that Bordeaux stood no chance against the duke. Still, the count held out in the hopes that he could inflict as much damage as possible on Richard’s army before surrendering.
As another day of fighting dawned, the trumpets signaled, and Richard’s army began their daily assault on the dismal gray castle. Richard, Baldwin, and Andrew watched the battle from a hilltop in the distance, positioned just out of range of any projectiles the count might lodge from his catapults. The trio watched a group of men beating on the gates with a large battering ram. Inside the stronghold, the count had run out of hot oil and had not had the foresight to obtain Greek fire before the siege began. Richard’s men battered away at the gate with only the archers firing down on them.
“My Lord, I dare say, it will not be long now.” Andrew sat up taller in his saddle.
As they watched the scene below, a horseman came riding hard and fast toward them. With great surprise, they recognized Master Blondel. Blondel barely stopped his horse before he leapt from it, landing right in front of Richard. “My Lord, I beg a word in private.”
Richard laughed and turned to Andrew and Baldwin, “More orders from the king no doubt.” He looked at Blondel, “Well, let us have it. What does the old man want now?”
Blondel looked away from Richard and quietly said, “Sir, it is Lady Anne.”
Richard jumped at the mention of her name. “What of Lady Anne?”
“Some men came with orders from your father, Raymond of Castile among them. They dragged her off into the night.”
“Where was Mercadier? Had he not arrived?” Richard stammered.
Blondel swallowed hard. “He just arrived, but there was nothing he could do.
Castile acted on orders from the king!”
Richard tightly clutched his sword in one hand, a gesture not lost on those around him. “Where did they take her?’
“Mercadier followed them, then sent word that Castile took her toTaillebourg. The baron there is hiding them. Mercadier said that according to those in the village, Castile has… married Lady Anne. Mercadier is waiting for your instructions.”
Richard remained speechless.
“Is there anything more that you can tell us?” Andrew prodded.
Blondel shook his head. “Not really, Sir. When Castile left Poitiers, he handed me this letter to give to the duke.”
Richard stared at the battle before him, so Andrew took the letter from Blondel.
“It has the seal of the King,” Baldwin noted.
Andrew ripped the letter open: it only took a second to read. “All it says is, ‘This is the price you pay for your pride’.”
They all looked to Richard for a response. Still he did not move. Baldwin spoke quietly to him, “My Lord?”
Without saying a word, Richard turned to his horse. The others expected him to mount it and ride off; however, he suddenly threw whatever he could get his hands on. Anything hanging from his saddle was not safe. He even picked up rocks from the ground. They all had to dodge the flying projectiles, but Richard wasn’t taking any aim. Richard grabbed his helmet and at a run threw it with all his might. He bent over grabbing his knees for a moment. No one breathed. Then, as suddenly as he started throwing things, he stood upright. His expression looked controled.
Pointing toward the besieged castle and with a shaking voice he ordered, “I want that castle taken or burned by nightfall, and that baggage inside to learn what it means to cross the Duke of Aquitaine.
“Yes, My Lord,” the men answered.
Richard could hardly have heard them because he mounted his horse and rode pell-mell toward the battle.
Built on a rocky outcrop overlooking the valley of the Charente River, the Castle of Taillebourg was thought to be unconquerable. In fact, no one had ever taken it. On three sides, mountains protected it with the fourth heavily fortified. Luckily for Castile, the baron there hated Richard almost as much as he did.
Another evening ended. Raymond attended another wedding feast, but
Anne remained locked away in a room. As Raymond left the feast and headed to Anne, Taillebourg caught up with him, “Castile!”
Impatient, Raymond did not want to stay and dicker with the baron. “As soon as my escort from the king arrives, I will be able to take control of my wife’s land.
You will be rewarded handsomely.”
Taillebourg, a large man, always wore a sour expression even in moments of great joy. “You know that I am not doing this out of the kindness of my heart, or because I like you, Sir. The riches of Marseilles and the promise of the king that the rule of Pointu will be taken from Duke Richard and given back to the queen, are the reasons that persuaded me.”
They arrived at the door to the bedchamber. “I understand. Just make sure you do your job, and you will have satisfaction. Now, to deal with my bride.” Raymond licked his lips. “There really is nothing like a virgin is there?”
Without giving Taillebourg the chance to respond, Raymond entered the bedchamber and shut the door in his host’s face.
In the dimly lit room, he could just make out Anne sitting on the hearth. “Good evening, wife. You missed a wonderful feast tonight. It really is too bad that you’ve been ill and missed so many of our wedding festivities.” He gave a patronizing sigh. “If only you would behave, I could let you have a little more fun.”
Anne stood up, her hands behind her back. Raymond scrutinized her. Her clothes were disheveled and smudges on her tear stained face. She had managed to put her hair back into one long braid.
“You look simply wretched! I find you a gown, and you let it become soiled and spotty. I give you a mirror, and what do you do? You break it.” He continued his assessment. “You really must take better care of yourself. How do you hope to produce a healthy heir if you cannot? Tomorrow morning, I will have you waited on, washed and cleaned. I will have only the finest houses, horses, and women.” He placed himself right in front of her. “You will not shame me, Anne! Is that clear?”
Anne answered with a glare. In response, Raymond grabbed her by the chin. “Do not look at me that way! You will kneel before your lord and master!” Raymond pushed her to the ground.
Anne gasped in pain as she landed on a bandaged hand, wounded when she broke a mirror.
“Well, My Dear, we have been married nearly a month.” His tone returned to sickening sweet. “Yet, there is no sign of your beloved Richard. It would seem that he traded you for peace with his father after all. What a shame. He was such a fine example of chivalry.”
He walked away from her to the bed. “Ah, well, perhaps you are not worth his trouble. As for me, now that I have you and will soon have your riches, I want heirs from you, and then I will be done with you.”
Raymond took off his boots, sat down on the bed, and patted the spot next to him. “Come, Wife, let’s to bed.”
Anne obediently walked toward the bed.
“That’s better. The more your conduct improves, the more I shall reward you. Now, give us a kiss.” Raymond smirked.
Slowly Anne leaned down to meet him. Suddenly she pulled a long jagged shard of broken mirror from behind her skirts. She stabbed away at Raymond’s face, making contact with his face and digging into his flesh just below his eye. Raymond cried out in surprise and pain, flinging his hands over his face to protect himself. Taking the opportunity, Anne bolted for the door.
Raymond’s cries roused the guard who caught Anne before she could clear the doorway, knocking the glass from her hand. Baron Taillebourg also heard the commotion and joined in the fray. Together they managed to subdue Anne.
Raymond leapt from the bed still clutching his face, blood seeping out from between his fingers. “I’ll kill her! I’ll kill her!” He screeched.
“You have had but just a taste of what is to come!” Anne spat at Raymond.
“Silence!” Taillebourg ordered. “She goes in the dungeon.”
The tall guard dragged Anne away as she screamed from the hall, “You will pay for this! All of you will pay! I swear before God, you will pay!”
“You first, bitch!” Raymond lunged toward the door.
Taillebourg cut him off. “Castile! You will be silent! She stays in the dungeon, for now.”