Prologue of Butterflies in the Garden
The Kingdom of Navarre, the successor of the Kingdom of Pamplona, was a European medieval kingdom which occupied lands on either side of the Pyrenees, alongside the Atlantic Ocean between present-day Spain and France.
Navarre Kingdom. Winter, early years of the fifteenth century.
On a cold night, two women were riding horses. They were running away. Both ladies had long, dark hair and looked very similar apart from the noticeable age difference, as one appeared to be more mature than the other. Both were dressed in long gowns. They rode very fast, and were now a few miles away from the bridge that linked the village to France and headed towards the forest. The cold November night was very dark. Once they reached the interior of the forest, the young lady who was leading the way shouted to her horse.
“Go Asas, go!” she said, stroking the horse at the same time as urging him to go faster. Her hair was flying with the wind and her face was full of braveness and determination. She checked the other lady, who was not far behind, to ensure she was keeping up, and continued riding fast through the forest.
Suddenly noises of horses approaching could be heard. Far behind, torches could be seen amongst the trees. The young lady continued to stroke her horse and prayed in silence, hoping for a successful escape. She pulled the necklace of her gown and, getting hold of the pendant with the image of the Virgin Mary, she took it up to her lips and kissed it. ‘Oh Virgin Mary, I don’t care what happens to my life but please look after my mother. She doesn’t deserve anything bad to happen to her. I beg for your protection,’ she prayed in silence. Suddenly her prayer was interrupted by the loud noise of men approaching on their horses.
“I can hear them getting close to us!” shouted the older lady. “They are going to catch us!” She made her horse stop and stayed still.
“What are you doing? They are coming! We need to go faster, otherwise they’ll catch us!” said the young lady, stopping her own horse so that it faced her mother’s. She made a sign with her head and said, “Come on Mama, let’s run.”
“No. I am not going anywhere. I can still save you. You go. Run, my daughter, run!”
“What are you saying? I’m not going anywhere without you, Mama. Come on, let’s go.”
“If I stay they will catch me and that will give you time to escape.”
Suddenly the noise of horses and men approaching became louder. They were swearing loudly at the two women, saying things such as “You’ll regret running away, you witches.”
“We don’t stand a chance, daughter. Their horses are much faster and they will end up catching us. I will stay and surrender. Go and get out of here. Go to France and find my sisters. There you will be safe,” said the older lady with tears in her eyes. “Go, you are young and still have a chance to escape this curse. Don’t worry about me.”
But before Carmen could say anything they found themselves surrounded by the men, who were holding lances and torches. They all had long golden chains with crucifixes around their necks.
“We’ve got you,” said one of the men. Pointing his spear at them, he ordered, “Get down off your horses now!”
Six other men approached the two ladies and dragged them down from their horses. Two of them took hold of the ladies and tied their hands with extreme force. They dragged them both away from their horses and laughed with bitter sarcasm. One of the men took his crucifix and kissed it before slapping the young lady in the face.
“We are not Jewish, neither are we witches. Please let us go,” begged the young lady’s mother, “Please!”
“There’s no salvation for you two. You are both going to the stake!” replied the man.
“Now you two, watch what we are going to do with your horses,” said the leader, who was still mounted on his own steed, pointing his spear at the ladies’ horses with evil in his eyes.
Both the animals got agitated, as if they were feeling the evil energy directed at them. Four men moved closer to the horses and, holding their long swords, they waited for more instructions.
“Please don’t do anything to our horses. Let them go,” begged the young lady. “I beg you, leave the horses in peace.”
The leader of the band replied, holding his crucifix, “They carry the same evil as you do. They are bewitched and we must kill them as we are going to kill you.” He laughed loudly, lifted his spear up in the air and ordered, “Fellows, in the name of the father, the son and the holy ghost, I command you to kill the bewitched animals which have been serving Lucifer!”
The young lady tried to reach for the horses but she was immediately pushed away by one of the men, and fell on the grass. She was followed by her mother who had been pushed by the same man.
The four men lifted their long swords and, with extreme violence, they struck the legs of the mother’s horse, who gave out a deafening shriek of pain and fell flat on the ground in agony. Both daughter and mother were horrified. The men smiled, watching the horse writhing in torment on the ground, and made a joke out of the young lady’s horse, who had become agitated with panic.
“Don’t worry, big boy, you’ll soon be joining your friend in hell,” said one of the men holding the swords.
The four men lifted their swords again, this time to hit the young lady’s horse, Asas. She screamed while watching the men strike the animal’s legs. Asas fell on top of the other horse and both of them cried, making horrifyingly loud noises which could be heard from miles away. The agonised creatures were squirming and hitting each other’s heads while their blood formed a pool on the ground.
“Asas!” she shouted in horror. “My boy…Oh my boy!” she screamed, looking at the inquisitors with tears rolling down her face. “You are not human, you are monsters. You are not serving God but your corrupted church.”
The men were positioning themselves to hit the animals in order to finally kill them but were stopped by their leader.
“No! Don’t use your swords.” He looked at both women and gave them a cynical smile. Using a very cold tone of voice he told the men, “We will burn them alive!”
The men went around collecting trunks and tree branches and surrounded the horses with piles of wood in order to create a bonfire. The ladies were crying loudly and the animals screeching in agony. Within minutes the men had put trunks and wood around the horses and set them on fire. The leader said, with pleasure in his voice, “Watch your animals burning and feel their pain and their agony. It’s a very slow death and it’s exactly the same death you two will soon face.”