The first English prisoner was taken to the entrance and unlocked from his shackles. With only a dim torch and a dull sword, he cautiously entered the darkness. The lack of visibility was further intensified by the black mold covering the window openings. In twenty years of abandonment, the spider webs and dust made the inside look like a forest of silk.
The Englishman was instructed to look for signs of missing French soldiers from the previous expedition, and report back. One of the King’s men was also needed to confirm that he didn’t remain just inside the entrance and hide. Only after the King threatened dishonor to his family name did one reluctant soldier come forth to guard the prisoner, once inside the castle.
As a positive incentive, King Charles promised the first man who solved the mystery of his missing soldiers a reward of fifty gold coins. It took a combination of the carrot and the stick to motivate frightened men. It was a royal skill to know when to use which.
Once inside, the prisoner’s guard could see his flickering torch off in the distance. In the pitch darkness, it was very easy to follow and clear that it wasn’t moving at all. The Englishman obviously thought he could hide in the castle ruins and avoid recapture. The guard’s torch had been extinguished by a sudden gust of wind so he was stranded until reinforcements came to guide him back out. He decided to just sit on the fine Corinthian marble floor and wait. He knew it wouldn’t be long until the sneaky Englishman tried to double back.
As gold coins have a way of making foolish men into brave ones, several men volunteered to be next in line. Over an hour passed and King Charles grew anxious for news. He sent in a messenger to check on the status of the guard and the first prisoner. When the King’s messenger arrived inside the main chamber hall; the startled guard mistook him for the Englishman. He was disoriented from being in total darkness and frightened to see a torch coming at him from another direction. Blinded by the light, he called out the Englishman’s name. The messenger said; “It is only I, with a message.”
With the castle’s cavernous echo and fearful of vengeful spirits, the spooked guard didn’t recognizing the messenger’s voice. Impulsively, he drew his sword and blindly swung toward the torch; beheading the man instantly! When his eyes adjusted to the light, the guard picked up the torch and held it near the dead man’s head. Realizing he had just killed a royal messenger and knowing the penalty for doing so, he intended to blame the lurking Englishman for the panicked deed.
With the dead man’s torch, the guard fearfully crept through the numerous castle halls, rooms, and passageways. It would be his word against the prisoner unless he could silence him permanently. After going down a flight of stairs; he saw a faint light flickering under a doorway. Figuring the prisoner was lying-in-wait to ambush him, he drew his sword and opened the door…