46 — Analysis

Ximene Trencavel – 23rd September 1355

After Maurice had departed they studied the marquetry map in greater detail. John crouched down and crooked his neck so that he was looking across the marquetry map.

Ximene’s eyes gleamed. ‘Treasure!’

‘Well… perhaps. I am now looking at this through different eyes. We have walked up and down the valley leading to the training ground and ridden to the hills beyond so many times. I can now identify quite easily the hills and the valley.

Ximene also crouched and edged John out of the way. ‘Yes, yes, I see what you mean. The map is incredibly accurate, looked at from this angle the hills look exactly as they are when we are out riding.’

They were pushing against each other to get the best view. John moved to one side and then stood up. ‘It would be better to get this map to somewhere there is better light.

Ximene nodded ‘The tower room’.

The map was heavy and difficult to mmaneuver Nevertheless, though out of breath, they managed to get it to the upper room.

John noticed some writing on the back of the board. He told Ximene about his discovery. They leaned the map against the wall with it’s base exposed. On vellum glued to the back of the board, there seemed to be a title and at least two sentences beneath. They were indistinct and in a language John did not recognise.

Ximeme screwed up her eyes, ‘The words are difficult to read, but I do know that it is Occitan.’

She paused considering not just the words but the translation which would inevitably have to follow.

‘The title says “Campestre de Diu”, literally translated it means “Land Of God”.’

‘Didn’t Maurice say God’s Holy Ground?’

‘Hmmm. Occitan has many subtleties, it could mean “Holy Ground”.’

John frowned. ‘And the words below?’ he asked.

Ximene apologized ‘I is difficult to read, it seems this is extremely old !’

She spent some time writing down what she could decipher. ‘Looking at what I have written I am not confident of its content. Occitan is still spoken by the majority of people in the south but there are many dialects, some of which I am not familiar with. The first few words are easy ‘Given into the care of the lords of Razes who are known as Trencavel.’ She turned to look at John with awe in her eyes. ‘That is a direct reference to my family, my ancestors’.

She continued Totas las personas nàisson liuras e parièras. then somthing I can’t read, then itat e en dreches. Son, more I can’t read, e de consciéncia e mai lor se cal, Oh dear more I can’t read, entre elas amb un eime de frairetat. Oc!

She took a deep breath. “I think the translation should be “All human beings are born free and have equal dignity and rights. In freedom, they should use their consciences to act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. Yes!’

Again she paused. “It is an interesting statement. It comes very close to the declaration of faith and duty professed by the Cathar Perfects. In fact, my knowledge of that piece of Cathar catechism has helped me make the translation. I think, therefore, that when the title is taken into consideration there are very clear religious overtones in this message. But why hide and then display it in this mysterious way?”

John was by now turning the map around in preparation for lifting it onto the table.

He pointed out that there was some writing in the form of marquetry on the front of the map

Ximene read it out. Viure lum de Linus. Oh! John it means ‘see the light of Linus’. I know who Linus was, he was the last Cathar Bishop of Rome, Some say he was the true founding father and the son of a British Prince. Cathars honor his name on the twenty-third of September, Oh! That is today! See the light of Linus that would be first light today!’ She paused, deep in thought. “But none of this makes sense. Glass for windows is, I am sure, a relatively recent invention, an Arab invention and without that glass window all this would be meaningless!’

They meticulously maneuvered the map onto the table. It was now possible to lie on the edge of the bed, in comfort, and spin the map to the required angle to study the arrangement of hills and mountains.

‘We now know that the bottom of the diagram on the wall is to the south and the top is the north. What we saw as the lance for the pennant is in fact just a north-south line.’

No, Ximene not just a north-south line, but almost certainly the Paris meridian, the devil’s line.

‘Ximene, can I use your bottle of gold paint? I know that there cannot be much left and I am as fond of seeing you apply it as you are of using it but it would be ideal for transferring our lines onto this dark wood!’ But I don’t know where to start. Ah! probably with the pentacle.’

He rose from the bed and peered down at the map. ‘To get this right I need a straight edge”. He descended the stairs to the landing and examined the framework surrounding the door to the kitchen. he satisfied himself the frame could be removed and then ran to the stables where he remembered seeing a broad-bladed chisel which was used in the removal of horseshoes. A hammer lay nearby. In minutes he had removed a section of architrave from one side of the door and was back in the tower room. The framing was exactly the right size to use as a straight edge.

He painstakingly using the straightedge as a guide and copying the pentacle on the wall John recreated the pentacle on the three-dimensional map.

It was nearly an hour before he had completed the task. He walked slowly around the map examining it from every angle. ‘Well Maurice was right as far as I can see, the high points he identified do form a penticle, possibly a perfect pentacle, though am not sure exactly what that is. Evenly proportioned I suppose.’

‘What? What? Let me see.’Ximene’s eyes opened wide. ‘There is no doubt about it! Five significant high points evenly distributed to form a pentacle!

John raised his eyebrows. ‘So now we should draw in the lines which bisect the pentacle through the points on Blanchfort and Bezu. ‘Another half-hour passed as he carefully constructed the additional lines.

Again he stood back to admire his handiwork.

Look, the lines through Blanchfort and Bezu run through the easterly points of the triangle Maurice pointed out to us. Hmm  the triangle is barely visible, but it is there, also the lines intersect  at another high point Maurice did not mention.  It is perhaps the most dramatic of the high points. Maurice did not give it a name, but we will call it le Pic.’

‘The Peak, hardly original!’

‘Perhaps, but at least we will know what we are talking about.

Ximene narrowed her eyes ‘So to me, it is now obvious that this is a guide to those intersections. We now know where those intersections are, or do we?’

‘Well not really. we know where they are on this map but if we go to find them it will not be easy.’ John nodded. “If you were going to hide away treasure, somewhere where it would be difficult to find, a key would have to be left intended for the rightful inheritors. This may well be that key. We have no means of knowing how this remarkable map was produced. However we now know that it is accurate, so perhaps there is a way.

Ximene was still trying to make sense of it.‘ So what we have is a large triangle with one point known, at Brenac, and the other two points in the middle of nowhere on high ground on a north-south line. The points on the north-south line can be pinpointed by lines drawn through the points of the large pentangle. We can go out tomorrow morning and visit all of the important points and discover if we can make any sense of this.

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

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Pseudo History