While three torches illuminated the inside better than one or two, it was still inadequate. They would only burn for a short time before going out. King Charles found a more reliable candle on the wall and chose the left hand hallway; with the defiant Englishman in front. His trusty sword was aimed squarely in the prisoner’s back as a reminder of who was in charge. He didn’t know what he was looking for but assumed it would be obvious when he found it. Supernatural retaliation be damned, he was far more concerned about the rogue saboteur lurking in the darkness.
The two soldiers took the other prisoner of war to the hallway leading to the stairs. The castle was filled with typical furnishings of the era. It’s walls were covered with gilded paintings of Rais’ ancestors and the family coat of arms. The three men entered several lavishly decorated rooms without finding anything unusual.
After coming up empty handed, the frustrated Monarch concluded that the answer must lie in the other direction. He directed the reluctant prisoner back toward the hallway that his soldiers had taken. After several bouts of resistance from the Englishman, the King would have gladly ran him through but he needed him as a hostage. The prisoner was his security in case the rogue saboteur caught him by surprise.
He wondered why he hadn’t heard anything from his men. Repeated calls to them were met with no response. As so many others had been seduced before; they went down the steps and saw the light under the doorway. King Charles removed the gag from the prisoner’s mouth and ordered him at knifepoint to announce that he was alone, and about to enter the room.
By catching the saboteur off-guard, the King intended to outsmarting him where all the others before had failed. He quickly replaced the gag and left the Englishman tied up at the foot of the steps. Holding his sword in front of him, he pushed open the door cautiously. . .
Gilles De Rais was surely laughing from beyond his grave. Just as he had predicted; all those who entered this castle died there. He had taken King Charles VII; the signer of his execution warrant, down with him twenty years after his own death. Whether Gilles de Rais was truly a soothsayer or just knew the King would never leave all of his gold and riches in the castle; I will never know.
You see, I was that defiant English soldier tied up by the stairs. In terror and anticipation, I watched as the fool opened the door and was pulled into the trap by its sophisticated trigger; just as all the other men had. I knew that Gilles De Rais’ diabolical revenge was finally complete. The trap consisted of phosphorescent walls that shined under the door as bait when exposed to approaching torch light. A collapsing floor activated by the door handle dumped it’s victims into a very deep pit. Just how deep it went down I’ll never know, but the stench of death was overwhelming. Soon the trap door closed and the mechanism reset, to capture another greedy victim.
Eventually I worked my way loose from my binding. Blindly I felt my way through the darkness to the outside world and to my freedom. I remain the only man to have ever escaped: ‘La chateau de noir’.