Read The Lafayette Sword Online

Authors: Eric Giacometti

Tags: #Freemasons;Freemason secrets;Freemasonry;Gold;Nicolas Flamel;thriller;secret societies;Paris;New York;Statue of Liberty;esoteric thriller;secret;secret knowledge;enlightenment;Eiffel tower

The Lafayette Sword (22 page)

80

Rue Saint Jacques de la Boucherie

March 21, 1355

B
ernard de Rhenac was giving Flamel a kind look, but the scribe knew that his fate depended on what he'd say next. Rhenac had ordered the king's doctor executed like a vulgar criminal. Flamel could imagine what a lowly manuscript seller would face. Pareilles and his men had disappeared. There was nobody to protect Flamel from the
soldiers.

“My dear Flamel, a man my age has no time to lose. I'll be direct, and I expect the same in return. Was I right to wager on your inte
lligence?”

“Yes… Yes,” Fl
amel said.

“Good. As you know, Flore de Cenevières held a secret—the secret of where Isaac Benserade's book could be found, and that book could be very useful to the kingdom. As the poor child didn't want to tell us, we had to leave her in the hands of your late neighbor. The latter certainly got the lass to talk and must have found the book. Don't y
ou agree?”

“I don't know wha
t to say…”

“Flamel, I suggest that you don't play with me. The torturer was under orders to give me the book, but what I've gotten instead is a body and no book. And now the girl is out of reach, protected by the count of Toulouse. I praise the goodness of our King John for not wanting to kill the child of a nobleman, but there are limits to his charity. The coffers are empty, and gold is the only way to guarantee the royal finances. We need gold. Do you un
derstand?”

Flamel was relieved to hear that the woman was under protection. But just as soon as he thought this, Rhenac grabbed his wrist. His fingers dug into him l
ike claws.

“Flamel, you alone attended the interview with the torturer. What did the girl say? Where is this book? Choose your words well, or Feublas will have you join the doctor in the kingdom of heaven. Or hell.
Feublas!”

The strongman slipped behind Flamel. He pressed his dagger against Flamel's neck. Flamel knew he'd lost the hand, and there was no way out. He would tell the truth and hope that after his death they would spare Lady
Perenelle.

“I know where the book is. It's in my cellar, in a hiding place behind the wine
barrels.”

Bernard de Rhenac smiled. “So, a small-time scribe knows about more than pens. Congratulations for the scene with the mercury and sulfur.
But why?”

“I wanted to cause him pain. I saw the way he tortured Flore de Cenevières. I couldn't for
give him.”

“And?”

“So I removed his eyes with my parchment scraper. Then I dug through his chest, where I found the mercury and sulfur. He used it to torture his victims. This time, it was my turn. I made him endure it all. Just lik
e he did.”

Bernard de Rhenac looked at him for a very
long time.

“So, the lamb becomes a wolf. But you will have plenty of time to meditate on your fate when you're on the rack. In the meantime, go get the book. I warn you, do not try t
o escape.”

Feublas grabbed Flamel by the collar and pushed him to the door. History was repeating itself. Like Isaac Benserade just a few days earlier, he was heading to his own execution. Flamel signed himself and said the Lord's Prayer. He would have to prepare to face his destiny. Hadn't he killed with his own hand and stolen a cu
rsed book?

81

New York, Harlem

Present day

T
he man with the shiny skull glared at Marcas. He loomed larger with every step. Marcas knew he wouldn't make it to the door before the woman fired the gun. He could feel the sweat beading on his
forehead.

He made up his mind. If he couldn't make it out, he'd put up a fight. But just as he was getting ready to spring over the counter, the woman laid the gun down. The man grinned and grabbed Marcas's hand, shaking it and tapping his wrist with an ind
ex finger.

It was the ritual handshake among
brethren.

“Welcome to Harlem, brother. I'm Captain Ray Robinson. My friends call me Sugar, in memory of that great boxer, who was an officer in
my lodge.”

Marcas let out a relieved laugh. The woman put the gun away, locked the door, and brought down the secu
rity gate.

Sugar took Marcas by the shoulders for a Masonic embrace and then had him sit down at a small table in a corner of
the shop.

“You've gotta be careful walking around a strange town at night, even if you are a cop. Sam Colt called me. I know he gave you my number.” Robinson grabbed another chair. He turned the chair around and str
addled it.

“I was in a hurry to see the temple,” Marcas said, feeling
chagrined.

“A hurry? I've been waiting with our sister here for over
an hour.”

Marcas was getting his act together. He turned to the woman and held out
his hand.

“Annie Besant, worshipful master of the Three Sisters Lodge, practicing the Ancient and Rectified Scottish Rite. Also, sociologist and graduate of Washington University. At present, I'm working on my PhD in urban studies. So what's up with that
building?”

It took Marcas a few minutes to wrap his head around everything. It had been quite a night. “To answer your question,” he finally said, “I'm trying to find a certain lodge from the end of the nineteenth century. It's important. And I believe the building next door is where the lodge was
located. ”

Robinson and Annie looked at each other an
d frowned.

“Listen, brother,” Robinson said. “Don't get me wrong, but we don't usually see Freemason tourists around here. Can you tell
us more?”

Marcas realized that just being a Freemason wouldn't
be enough.

“I belong to a lodge in Paris. Two of my brothers there have been murdered. The killer was trying to put together a puzzle, and a piece of it may be in that
building.”

Robinson examined him carefully and then nodded. “Follow me. Annie, light things up, w
ould you?”

Marcas followed Robinson and Annie. Robinson pushed aside the batik drape on the back wall and went though the opening. Beyond it was an iron door. Marcas heard a click, and the door opened. The three of them walked along a hallway with small green lights and arrived at another door that opened auto
matically.

“We're in one of the oldest Masonic buildings in Harlem. It was constructed in 1860 by European immigrants, with financial help from French Freemasons, and they were the first to accept brothers of color in their lodge. It wasn't all that common at
the time.”

“I ima
gine not.”

“Actually, Freemasonry has a rich history in Harlem. The abolitionist Prince Hall formed the nation's first black lodge in the last part of the nineteenth century, not here but in Boston. Prince Hall lodges soon sprang up elsewhere, and at the beginning of the twentieth century, Prince Hall purchased this building. They moved out a short time later. We managed to find a brother who was willing to buy it so that it could be preserved. All the entrances were boarded up and reinforced. It looks like any other abandoned building from the outside, but inside, we use it for storage and, well, there are some other s
urprises.”

Robinson led him toward a majestic room with a gigantic crystal chandelier. The walls were covered with traditional Masonic insignia. But in the middle of one wall, there was a monumental two-panel door flanked by two columns, one bearing the letter J and the other bearing the letter B. Robinson pushed the doors open, and Marcas's ja
w dropped.

It was a replica of the Lafayette Temple in Paris. The swords were hanging on the walls in an identical fashion. The ceiling had the same stars. And the floor had the same checkerboard pattern. How was it
possible?

Ray Robinson sat down in the worshipful master's seat and look
ed amused.

“Astonishing, isn't it. On the solstices, we have commemorative meeti
ngs here.”

Marcas walked to the center of the temple. He couldn't believe what he w
as seeing.

“Everything remains as it was originally. As I said, this lodge was once owned by white European immigrants. But at the beginning of the twentieth century, the black population in Harlem began to burgeon. Many black churches went up, and it wasn't long before Harlem became known as the spiritual home of the Negro protest movement. This Ivanhoe lodge became a Prince Hall lodge. Although Ivanhoe had accepted black members, hardly any others lodges were doing that. That's how black lodges came into existence. Freemasonry was seen as a form of emancipation, but white brothers weren't all that supportive. So African-Americans had their own brotherhood, and their lodges looked just like the whites-only lodges. Of course, today things are different. It's not a separate but equal brotherhood. Blacks, Latinos, Asians, and members of any other ethnic group you can think of are welcomed and initiated in lodges across the Unite
d States.”

“It's changed in France, too,” Ma
rcas said.

Marcas slipped behind the benches and looked for the replica of the Lafayette sword. Sure enough, it was in the place it occupied in the Paris temple. Did it also have an inscription? He examined the surrounding swords, under the watchful eye of Brother Robinson. Finally he removed the Lafayette sword and held it to
the light.

The blade was smooth. Disappointed, Marcas put it back and took another look at the surroundi
ng swords.

Robinson joined him. “So what's this interest in the swords al
l about?”

“Are these the same swords that have always b
een here?”

“As far as I know. I think they're just decorative. They don't have any re
al value.”

Marcas wouldn't find any answers here. He sat down on one of the benches and thought of the inscription on the Lafaye
tte sword.

“New York, where, in turn, speak brothers of all ways, truth lies in the center of the ancient ga
ze. 1886.”

The first part of the inscription pointed to some Masonic site in New York, but the second part wasn't as easy to u
nderstand.

Of course! He leaped up and hurried over to the worshipful master's spot. The all-seeing eye, a symbol of Masonic wisdom, was right above the velvet-upholstered chair. The Egyptian-style eye watched those who arrived. It was the ancient gaze. Marcas examined it in silence for several minutes. Then he climbed up on the chair and pressed the pupil. The eye slid open, revealing a copper-co
lored box.

Marcas held it to the light. A flaming sword was engraved on
the cover.

He returned to the benches and sat down with the box. Robinson j
oined him.

“We
ll, damn…”

Marcas jiggled the cover. It squeaked as he opened it, almost certainly because it hadn't been tended to in quite some time. A rolled-up piece of paper tied with a red ribbon lay inside. Next to it was a small ball about two centimeters in circumference—a ball of gold. Marcas picked it up. It was soft and
malleable.

Alchem
ical gold.

Marcas returned the gold to the box and untied the ribbon, carefully unrolling the scroll. It was a map with three
sentences:

The sun illuminates the initiated, but never stra
ight on...

Perfection, the stone chases away th
e shadows.

From the carved cube, the light
will rise.

82

Present day

Aurora Security to Aur
ora Source

Operation Chimera.
The target has not left the curio shop in Harlem. Requesting ins
tructions.

Aurora Source t
o Security

Operation Chimera.
Jus
t observe.

83

Rue Saint Jacques de la Boucherie

March 21, 1355

J
ust as Nicolas Flamel was venturing outside, he heard an uproar in the street. He opened the door wider to the sight of shopkeepers and residents closing their shutters and running every which way. Some were crying out. Others were shouting to their
neighbors.

“What's happening, Feublas?” Rhenac yelled. “Your men should be blocking th
e street.”

A guard grabbed Flamel and pushed
him back.

“The British have attacked Paris. They're pillaging and killing people on the other side of the Seine. We need
to leave.”

“No! I need to get the book. Quick, Feublas, get us across the street to the scribe
's house.”

Feublas gathered some men in black to surround Flamel and Rhenac, and they forced their way into the street, injuring a man and two women in the process. All around him Flamel saw faces full of fear and heard the young and old screaming in terror. Halfway across, a shockwave ran through
the crowd.

“The
British!”

At the end of the street, Flamel recognized a British helmet. Rhenac's men were pushed aside by the terrorized Parisians. In the panic, Flamel punched the closest guard in the kidney and dove into the crowd. He heard Rhenac cry out, but the crowd had already carried
him away.

He reached his shop as one of his assistants was boarding up the large wooden door. He had just enough time to slip in. He found his wife trembling in the corner. Next to her was the si
re of Tuz.

“Nicolas, your wife told me what's going on. You're in a bad spot. If your shop doesn't have another way out, we'll be sliced up by the British, or worse, by Rhenac
's horde.”

Flamel rushed to his wife. “Don't be afraid. I just need to get something from the cellar, and we
can flee.”

She leaped up, her face red with anger. “I found that cur
sed book!”

Flamel stepped back. “What did you do
with it?”

“You're more concerned about the Devil's books than about y
our wife.”

“You're out of your mind,” Flame
l shouted.

Tuz stepped between the two spouses. “We don't have time for a scene. We've got to get out
of here.”

Someone was pounding on the door. An apprentice scribe shot Flamel a terrified look. The tip of a sword poked through
the wood.

Lady Perenelle threw herself into her husband's arms,
screaming.

“The roof,” h
e shouted.

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