It was a quiet, sunny day in the South of France. Geoff was drinking in the last few moments of pleasurable relaxation before he had to leave this centuries old chateau. It had been a wonderful two weeks of much needed down time. As an investment banker, who had the battle scars of the last few years, he had to scramble to re-build in the new financial era.
Jacques Chevalier, his host, had been a great mentor and wise friend through all of this. He was the one who insisted that he take this break. It had been a time to stop, clear his head, and put things in perspective. This estate was the ideal place to do this. Here, Geoff felt a sense of history. It was as if important things had happened here.
He rose from the couch in the study from a quick nap before his departure. Somehow, he managed to wake up with a small kink in his back. Geoff leaned with his back against the nearest bookcase with the back of his head up against a shelf. He grabbed the sides of the bookcase with each hand in an attempt to work out the kink in his back. He heard a “click” but was sure that it didn’t come from his joints.
Suddenly, he started to slide backwards and heard a gentle “whoosh” as the bookshelf gave way. He almost lost his balance as the secret bookcase door swung inwards to reveal a dark musty room. Its stale air made him cough. He ran his hand against the nearest wall searching for a light switch.
Success! A small lamp on a far table snapped on to reveal a small secret library with one leather chair, a small table, and the walls lined with books. It looked like this room hadn’t been used in years. Even though it had been sealed off, there was a thin layer of dust everywhere.
Intrigued, he scanned the bookshelves to see if he could recognize any of the titles. Most of the volumes were bound in leather. His eye caught a glimmer of light reflecting from a gold embossing on the spine of one of the books. He carefully removed the book from the shelf and examined it.
The gold stamped insignia looked familiar. It was the cross pattee. A symbol associated with the legendary Order of the Knights Templar.
There was no title, neither on the spine nor on the front of the book. He opened it carefully and dust formed a small cloud before him as he opened the volume. The parchment was dry and yellowed. There was an inscription “To the worthy, a task of love fitting to you, and may it bring a better future for all.” After several blank pages, on the frontispiece, there again was the insignia that had attracted him to the book
Then, the title of the book read: “The Order Today– An Introduction.”
It was penned in ink by someone who was skilled in the ancient art of calligraphy. Good penmanship had become a lost art in today’s world of computers and telephones.
A few more pages and then the manuscript began with the words:
“Being, first and foremost, the mission of our hallowed order, we have endeavored to secure the safety and longevity of …….” He could not make out the next few words. It was blurred as if a drop of water had destroyed them.
“To do this, it was evident that this protection and sustenance would require a steady source of wealth that would not be diminished by time, nor subject to the vagaries of the follies of men or their vices. In keeping with this mandate, our beloved Brother Bernard , now passed on to our Lord, had devised a plan that would provide the bounty of wealth creating more wealth to provide a continuous flow into a most secure repository for future use.”
His mind reeled. What was so important that it would require money for centuries to come? Where had this money gone? And where is it today?
This really intrigued Geoff as he was a banker himself. Money lending goes back to the time of Christ but had since been refined and institutionalized even made respectable.
He flipped through the pages, gasping at what he was seeing. It seemed a novitiate manual of The Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, the secret society more commonly known as The Order of the Knights Templar. It clearly outlined the primary mission and additional goals of the Order, their rules of conduct, as well as a general history of the founding of the order.
For centuries people had been speculating about the Templars. What secrets had they found? What was their real purpose? Do they still exist? Here before him lay some of the answers. It was a remarkable find.
But did Jacques, his host, know of this room? The chateau had been in his family for centuries. Perhaps he has walked past that bookcase his entire lifetime not knowing what secrets lay behind it. Or, maybe he does know. Maybe he is even a Templar! Aagh! He started feeling the paranoia easing its way into his thoughts. The Templar story seemed to do this to people.
He thought, “What other treasures of Templar knowledge lie in these other volumes?” He did not have time to find out. He was due to leave for the train station in fifteen minutes. His bags were packed and appointments were set. He quickly grabbed his digital camera that was in one of his bags in the hallway outside of the study. He returned to the secret study in the library and snapped photos of as much of the contents of the Templar manual as possible. He couldn’t get the whole book but he thought he got the most important pages. He carefully returned the volume to the shelf, switched off the lamp, and closed the bookcase door. He looked at his watch, grabbed his bags, and hurried quickly to his car.
He had planned on taking the train back to London from Provence, but his recent discovery prompted him to fly instead. Geoff wanted to get back as soon as possible to check out some historical references and relationships that his newly acquired information seemed to imply. His mind was racing, formulating theories. This was no task for a computer search. These references are arcane. They would be found only in dusty old books and fragile manuscripts which lay undisturbed in the obscure regions of several special libraries in England. Some of these texts may have not seen the light of day for hundreds of years.
When he arrived at the airport in Nice, he found a flight and quickly purchased a ticket. He boarded the plane noting it would be a relatively short flight. If he was lucky, he might make it back by late afternoon and could reach one of the libraries today. The plane was not full. There were primarily some businessmen and a few tourists onboard.
In flight, Geoff looked out the window wondering about the Templar’s influence on the country below him. How much of it was or, should he say, still is owned by the Templars through chains of corporations and financial institutions? This might never be known. After all, they are the ones who invented banking and an array of financial vehicles to help them manage and conceal their assets; assets which would help them fulfill their mission; their whole raison d’être.
Now that he had had a glimpse into their objectives, he started to get a glimmer of why things might be the way they are today. With time, some intensive research and a little bit of luck, he might be able to verify and refine some of his newly formulated theories.
The flight was uneventful. He landed at Heathrow around four p.m. and hailed a taxi. He would first stop by his flat, drop off his luggage, and quickly change into a fresh set of clothes. Then he could make a dash for the British Library. The phone messages and emails would have to wait.
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