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 (6 page)

BOOK: The Lafayette Sword
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20

Rue Saint Jacques de la Boucherie

March 14, 1355

T
he day after the man had been burned at the stake, Lady Perenelle noticed that her husband was quieter than usual, but she didn't say anything. Nicolas was her third husband, and she knew what to do and what not to do when men were taciturn. As she went down the stairs, she thought about her two previous spouses, both older men of good standing. The first one had desired her for her beauty, and the second had desired her for
her dowry.

As far as she was concerned, men had little interest in the moods and concerns of their wives, and she accepted this. A woman's role was being a good wife, a devoted mother, and a faithful woman. If she respected this code, she could have a pleasant life, and the gates of heaven would open for her. Lady Perenelle was a devout Christian and attended the Église Saint Jacques, which was next to the family shop. She paced her life to the rhythm of the liturgical seasons and her days to call of morning and evening prayer. Having experienced the ups and downs of life, she had found salvation in religion. It was absolute, without doubts or
questions.

Lady Perenelle watched her husband as he supervised his apprentices. With an expert stroke, he corrected a young man's capital letter. Yet his eyes seemed lost somewhere beyond the illumin
ated page.

She had always feared books, because her husband didn't simply copy them. He enjoyed reading them. She was especially afraid of the books that were filled with strange characters and phantasmagorical drawings that came from monks who had traveled to faraway places. These parchments from ancient libraries in Constantinople and churches in Jerusalem fascinated her husband. Once she had even come upon him making a second copy. She was also aware that her husband kept certain books that only he knew about in a baseme
nt closet.

Never had she dared to tell her confessor, for fear that misfortune would fall on her household, but she shook at the idea that she was risking her soul. Every time her husband emerged from the basement, candle in hand, he looked feverish. And it took him a long time to fa
ll asleep.

In truth, she didn't just fear books. She hated them. And she hated even more the strange customers who showed up at night with books hidden under their clothes. Her husband always opened the door to them, offering them something to drink and a place near the fire. He had once told her that every time an unpublished book came out of the night, a whole section of human thought came back into
the light.

When she returned to the main room, her husband was focused on a book. She coughed. He looked at her but then turned to the window, as if something had caught his eye. Then shock filled his face. She strained to see what had caught his attention but couldn't. Her husband got up and strode across the room. He stuck his head out the door and then looked back at her, as if he had seen the Devi
l himself.

“Master Flamel, I have come to
see you.”

Nicolas Flamel said nothing. His new neighbor was at his door: the man in black. He wasn't wearing his hood today. His face was a pasty white, and there were bags under his eyes. The scribe looked away. The strange man just star
ed at him.

“You are a master in writing, I believe? I too am a kind of master, but in a very special area. I am dedicated to serving the will of God. My name is Jehan. Jeha
n Arthus.”

Flamel removed his
skullcap.

“I am Nicolas. Nicolas Flamel. At your
service.”

A smile flitted across the m
an's face.

“Exactly.”

The shopkeepers were opening a little late, as the previous night's festivities had lasted into th
e morning.

Jehan Arthus frowned. “What did you think of last night's e
xecution?”

“That the king is good
and just.”

For the second time, the man gave him a fleet
ing smile.

“You are a prudent and reserved man, Master Flamel. Never one word louder than
another.”

“Copying all day long requires di
scipline.”

“Yes, it's much like my oc
cupation.”

Flamel didn't say anything. He didn't like where the conversation
was going.

“Master Flamel, are you a good Christian? And don't worry. I'm not looking to cause you trouble. I simply need you
r skills.”

The scribe relaxed
a little.

“You need to copy a book. A Gospel, undoubtedly. I have
already…”

“No. I simply need a man who knows how to write what is being said and to forget what he has heard. Are you that man, Maste
r Flamel?”

21

Grand Orient Masonic Hall

Evening of the initiation

H
e advanced quickly, using just his hands to guide him along the walls. He'd practiced dozens of times and didn't need
any light.

“Total, absolute control. That is power. I love the
darkness.”

He climbed the three steps that led to another passageway. Soon he would be out in the open and could hurry home to wash up. He'd have to ease himself out of his role and return to his normal life. He'd ask his wife about her day and find out if their son had done his homework. Then he'd heat up the meal Martha, their housekeeper, had prepared. The further he moved away from the temple, the more he returned to his ordinary profane existence. The brother of vengeance was disappearing little b
y little.

A vision of the man in the wheelchair flashed in h
is memory.

“I cry for them when they suffer. Why don't they understand that I'm freeing them from their chains? I am the wind and the storm. I am v
engeance.”

He felt the cold iron ring, grabbed it, and pulled. The door creaked. A cool breeze struck
his face.

“I am the brother of blood. For
eternity.”

His stomach began
to gurgle.

“I'
m hungry.”

He heard steps behind him and smiled. This one was cleverer than the others, but he'd foreseen that pos
sibility.

Marcas shone the flashlight on the damp walls and floor while also checking behind him. The room where he had started was far behind him now—a good hundred meters, at least. Footprints were clearly visible. The killer had come this way. He couldn't go any faster, however, because rusty metal rods were poking out of the ceiling, and he'd run right into one if he wasn'
t careful.

A steady stream of cars was twenty meters above him, but he felt cut off from e
verything.

The passageway narrowed and curved to the right. A shadow rose up. Marcas jumped to the side and hit the Taser button. A flash illuminated the darkness. Then there was nothing. He'd shot at a fallen beam. He sped up, figuring he'd soon reach the end of the tunnel. He heard a pattering along the wall and aimed his flashlight at the sound. It was rats racing in his direction. He stepped aside and gave them wide berth. The tunnel veered left, narrowed again, and then opened onto a rectang
ular room.

Symbols had been carved in the stone close to the ceiling: a compass, a square, a plumb line, and two columns—symbols familiar to all Freemasons. More than a century earlier, brothers had left their mark in this labyrinth. Marcas whispered a ritual formula in their memory. He lowered the stream of light on the wall opposite him. It had a rough hole big enough to let a man through. To the side a knotted rope was engraved in a rusty metal plaque. He mov
ed closer.

Beyond the hole there was nothing but a sharp rubble-covered drop. The foul odor of sludge assaulted him as he climbed through the hole and nearly slipped on the loose stones. He grabbed one that seemed secure and cut
his hand.

The stench was suffocating. After five minutes of slow progress he found himself inside a tall tank that was about three meters in diameter. On the walls there were openings for three la
rge pipes.

A metal ladder inside of the tank led to a half-open grate in the ceiling. Marcas worked his way to the rungs. Just as he started climbing, a deep rumbling caught his attention. He turned toward the sound. One of the tunnel walls was caving in—exactly what the grand secretary had warned him about. A second later the grate above him slammed shut. It w
as a trap!

Marcas flashed his light upward, toward the grate. The hooded man was staring down at him, like a devil from the last circl
e of hell.

22

Île de la Cité

March 14, 1355

N
icolas Flamel told his wife that he had a job he couldn't do at the shop. A rich customer wanted him to copy a book, but it had to be done in his home. Lady Perenelle wished him good night, never doubting
his word.

When he arrived at the Palais de Justice on the Île de la Cité, Flamel held out his writing case, his parchments, and his feather pens for the guards to inspect. A valet then led him through a maze of staircases and dark rooms before handing him over to two guards stationed at a narrow door. After his things were examined once again he was permitted to descend the winding stairs. He reached the bottom step just as the bells of Notre Dame were ringing fo
r vespers.

“You're right on time, Master Flamel. Come in, and have a g
ood look.”

Flamel would never forget what he saw. A woman—young and beautiful—bound to a stone, her face, hands, and body
mutilated.

“She is beautiful—like the devil,” the torturer said, brushing aside a lock of sweaty hair on her forehead. “So far she has only been given the ordinary measures. Simple physical pressure. Nothing very forceful. But if she holds out, we will have to use more convincing te
chniques.”

Nicolas felt his stomach lurch. “But… But she is gagged. How can
she talk?”

“Yes, I have left the gag in place to allow the suffering to wake up her memory. She'll be able to recall everything that she needs to
tell us.”

The woman's eyes glistened. Nicolas had never seen such an agonized look on anyo
ne's face.

“You don't know who she is
, do you?”

Flamel sai
d nothing.

“And it is certainly better that you never know. Still, I'm going to tell you. We will be alone tonight. I will have no other help. I'm going to tell you the story of her sh
ort life.”

“I as
sure you—”

“Enough,” the torturer said. “If I tell you about this lost soul, it is for one reason. If this story ever gets out, I will know who disc
losed it.”

Nicolas opened his mouth t
o protest.

“And you
will die.”

23

Somewhere under Paris

Evening of the initiation

T
he killer remained silent and just stared at Marcas. He wasn't more than a meter away. Marcas tried to shake the grate loose. “Open up. Now!” he shouted. “My colleagues from the police will be here at an
y minute.”

His adversary didn't move a muscle. Marcas felt like an insect un
der glass.

“Say something at least, you bastard.” Marcas was still trying to loosen the grate. He gave up and turned the other way. He went back down the ladder and flashed his light around the tank. He had to find another exit. His mind was racing. Surely the police had gotten to the Masonic Hall, and Guy Andrivaux had told them about his chase through the tunnels. They would be here
shortly.

As he looked back at the hooded madman, he felt a vibration under his feet. One of the pipes started to hum. Maybe the metro was running nearby. But a second later the ground began to shake, and the faint noise in the pipe became a staccato of sucking and gurgling. A jet of muddy water rushed into the tank, and the two other pipes spit out the same grayish liquid. An acrid stench hit his nose. The water flow
ed faster.

The killer's voice rang out. “As you see, our Mason brothers were geniuses. They used this wastewater decantation tank to hide the entrance to the tunnel. The wall blocking the entrance is waterproof. They would leave the tunnel by this grate and then fill
the tank.”

“How do you k
now this?”

“You'd like me to talk, wouldn't you, my brother. Well, if that gives you a semblance of comfort… The plans for this underground system have been passed down in my family for centuries. My father knew that they would serve me
one day.”

As he listened, Marcas was desperately trying to figure a way out. There had to be
something.

“I suppose the water will rise right up to the grate, and you'll watch me drown,” Marcas shouted, trying to s
ound calm.

The killer shrugged. “I suppose you're right. A flood of profane excrement, damned by a wall built by expert Masons to guard the entrance to the temple: it's a fine allegory. Don't y
ou agree?”

“You're out of y
our mind.”

“Now, now. A little dignity, please. Is that how you talk to another brother? Don't you owe me the respect of m
y degree?”

“What degree, dammit! And aren't you called upon to come to the assistance of a brother wherever and whenever it'
s needed?”

“I told you already. Mine is a vengeance degree. As for providing you with assistance, I fear that will not serve my interests.
I wonder…”

The sewer sounds were drowning out the tormentor's words. The water was rising. Marcas felt it rushing around his feet. He climbed up a step but knew it wa
s futile.

“Help me. Help!” he c
ried out.

The hooded man chuckled. “I doubt our brothers are nearby. And even if they were on the other side of that wall, they couldn't do anything without ex
plosives.”

The icy filth had reached his thighs. The smell made him gag. His limbs were going numb. The water was lifting him toward the ceiling. He felt something slide along his leg and let out
a shriek.

“Why? Why are you do
ing this?”

“I'm carrying out my mission. You could never un
derstand.”

He was now about a foot from the grate. He figured he had only another two minutes before the water covered him. There was just one way o
ut: death.

BOOK: The Lafayette Sword
7.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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