1st of April 1625
A small village in the Guyenne region, Southern-France
The small village was situated in a valley. On the west side of the village one could see the Atlantic Ocean and to the east there was first a hill and then plains and woods for several miles. Out in the Atlantic huge dark clouds were gathering, building up for the storm that was approaching France.
In the outskirts of the village stood two men, one of them a young man just turned 17 with dark hair, fair skin and dark, clear eyes, the other his father, the lord of the castle, an aging figure with hair turning white and a skin scarred from many wars in the service of France. The old man hands his son a letter and smiles.
“Remember lad when you now follow in the footsteps of your father and grandfather, dieing is a great sacrifice to France, but an even larger sacrifice is living. If you live you can do good again and again, if you die you have given your life, but you will not be able to do good again…. Stay alive my son.
And remember when you meet the Baron, you hand him my letter. I have already written to him and he has been kind enough to accept you in his company. So you listen to him and follow his orders, you hear! That man saved my life once.”
“I understand father. I can’t wait to go and fight for France…”
“Now, now war is not a game. War is horrible my son, you do well in remembering that. People die in wars, and I don’t want you to be one of them.”
“Yes, father I understand.”
“Good. You will leave for Bordeaux now. The Baron will you meet you there.
Oh and Jean you will walk. I need all the horses here, so I have asked the Baron to find a horse for you in Bordeaux. “
“As I said I need all the horses here, but even more importantly if you meet any thieves or Huguenots they won’t rob you if you don’t have a horse. You will just look like a peasant walking on foot, not a man of good family and soon to become one of His Majesty’s soldiers.”
Nodding to signal he has understood Jean then turns his attention to the village, casting one last look at it all. Then suddenly a man comes running against them. As he approaches they can see it is the old mercenary that lives in the village. He had served as mercenary in several wars in his youth and it was known that he supported and had a soft spot for Protestantism after having served in Northern-Germany for several years. There were even some who thought him to be a Huguenot or an English agent. Still most of the people in the little village liked the old man and respected him, although the young priest disliked him and had written about the man to the bishop several times.
”Monsieur, monsieur… I hear you are going to Bordeaux, oh monsieur do me a favour and bring this letter to my friend there. It must be delivered to him personally. Can you do that monsieur?”
“Certainly, sir. I can take your letter to Bordeaux.”
”Oh thank you monsieur. It must be delivered to monsieur Dufour personally, no one else. Once again thank you monsieur.”
Quickly the old man hands Jean the letter and then just as fast as he came he has disappeared in between the houses again. Jean stands there with the letter in his hands staring at it. It looked like a fine letter, it contained no address just the name Dufour on the front side, and on the back it had a huge red seal not similar to any thing Jean had ever seen. His father also looked at it and then shook his head.
“I don’t think you will enjoy carrying that letter Jean, I have never seen that seal before, but I know this one thing, that is not the seal of some peasant or low ranking noble, and it is certainly not the seal of that old fool… This seems like the seal of someone important.”
“Well father we can’t just open the letter and read it can we. I have said I shall take it to Bordeaux and that I intend to do.”
“My son, still the stubborn boy you have always been. Farewell Jean, and remember… come back alive!”
Leaving his father behind Jean walks out of the village.
The dark clouds are approaching, getting darker and darker and as he casts on last look out on the Atlantic he can see the rain and the lightning as it approaches the land. Quickly making sure the letter and his father’s note to the baron are safe under his clothes, he pulls his cloak closer together and then after taking one last look at the village he moves over the top of the hills, walking north towards Bordeaux.
Had he turned back one more time he might have seen the two horsemen dressed in red cloaks that came out of the old mercenary’s house, one of them wiping the blood of his sword in the grass and casting a look up the road just as Jean moves over the hill. Pointing towards Jean he nods to the other.
” We were too late, the old fool gave the letter to a boy to bring it to Bordeaux. Killing one more peasant shouldn’t be a problem… Are your bastards ready?”
”Good, we will intercept him just before he arrives at their position then… We need that letter…”
As he utters the last words the man mounts his horse and seconds later also the second rider has mounted his horse, and they both took the road north out of the village, north towards Bordeaux.