VOL II treasure hunt

Chapter 23 Arousal

The only time Ximene had previously ascended the stairs was to accompany John to make sure he did not fall. She had not paid too much attention to the architecture or fittings and fixtures. Now she looked around the landing, noting the bookshelves, containing very few books, the tall shuttered window and the seat underneath it which during the day provided light for reading. The space was dominated by a large central table, which in turn was almost filled with a substantial three-dimensional model. She looked questioningly at Maurice.’ And this?’

Maurice smiled. ‘ It is a three dimensional map of the countryside immediately surrounding Château Mazerou and particularly the lands to the east of it. He leaned forward and ran his hand over the smooth curves of the model before using his finger as a pointer. ‘North, South, East, West. The Château is here. The whole of this area used to be known as Razes and the most important city was Rhedae,’ He slid his finger across the model until it rested on a high point. ‘Here… Sadly the whole area has been gradually depopulated. Rhedae is today little more than a village.’

Ximene ran her own finger over the map. ‘ It is incredible. And who do you think made this?’

Maurice shrugged. ‘ I have no idea. When I first came here it was in the entrance hall of the chateau but when the modifications were made it was thrown out. I got the impression that the bishops thought it represented some heretical message. I rescued it and brought it down here because, in my eyes it is, a work of art. Worth saving.’

Do you know how it was made?’

‘Not really. The contours of the hills were formed from multiple layers of carefully cut thin wood, glued together and then sanded to a smooth profile. If you look carefully you can see the different layers. All the high points are made of much thicker pieces of wood, carved to the correct shape. How they gathered the information to determine the shapes? I have no idea.’

‘And why would the bishops considered it to be heretical?’

Maurice blinked. ‘Heretical.? Traditionally the whole of this area is known as the God’s Holy Ground, In Occitan Compestre de Dieu. There is, I think, a title on the underside of the map which describes it as such. Why? Well there are five high points which are supposed to be the points of a perfect pentacle.’ He again used his finger as a pointer. ‘The centre of the remnants of Rhedae is one point’ he slid his finger across the map.’ The location of the chateau of Blanchfort is another. His finger continued to move clockwise across the map. The hill of Soulaine another, Then the Templar fortress at Bezu and finally the highest point at the western edge of this ridge running across the whole area. It too has been given a name, Serre de Lauzat’

With her own finger Ximene touched all the points of the pentacle Maurice had followed. ‘Rhedae,Blanchfort,Soulaine,Bezu…Lauzat.?’

Maurice shook his head. ‘ Yes and some people think that the hills marking the pentacle are so precise that it must be a miracle, a configuration created by God.’ Not a view I would share but it is certainly quite remarkable.

John interrupted and also ran his hands over the eastern and southern edges of the map ‘But these points you have identified are not the highest points on the map.’

Maurice smiled ‘You are correct, but think of the whole of the plain surrounding Rhedae as a relatively flat shelf on the northern edge of the Pyrenees. to the east and south of the pain that shelf are the real Pyrenees. he ran his hand around the easterly and southerly sides of the map, He pointed to the east of the map. ‘Cardu, Bugarach, Guinxe, Quiére all very impressive. however the points of the pentacle are still on high points on the plain.

And that is not the end of it. When the Roman Empire converted to the Church of Rome, all distances were then measured from Jerusalem. Then, the Western Roman Empire fell and the Franks dominated most of Europe. The Franks decided that the point of measurement should be Paris. By accident or design the north south line through Paris at the same Latitude as Jerusalem is 666 leagues west of Jerusalem. 666, the number of the beast.!

This line passes somewhere though the east of this area. Thus God’s Holy Ground is invaded by the Devil’s Line. Now there is something to think about.

Ximene waved her hand over the model. ‘Guillam said it is safe for us to explore the valley?’

Yes indeed, but not before ten o’clock. The bishops are creatures of habit and they do walk and ride and occassionally hunt in the early morning, but they come scurrying back before the heat of the day. Look at the tower nearest the stream, if there is a flag flying it will mean that some of the bishops are still in the valley.

Chapter 24 –A Real Goddess

He was pleased when Ximene distracted him. She pointed to the wall behind the bed. ‘What do you make of that. John?’

Outlined on the wall was a pennant, the triangular shape of which was drawn in black. The pennant seemed to be mounted on a flagpole, or possibly lance, also drawn in black. On the pennant, close to the widest part of the pennant, there was a gold five-pointed star.  On the area of the wall where pennant was drawn there were a series of cracks radiating out from and through the pennant.

John scratched the stone with his fingernails. ‘‘Despite all these cracks, the stone isn’t soft. Strange! it is almost like the cracks they have been deliberately engraved. The colours? Black and gold, the same colours as your tabard, is that a Trencavel pennant?’

‘Hmm, I think not… you are correct about the colours…I just don’t recognize it… thought I suppose it could be; given the history of this place. It is a bit military for a bedroom don’t you think?

Later in the morning, John announced he wanted to explore the surrounding countryside. ‘We should study the three dimensional map on the landing and use that to decide where to go.’

They spent several minutes studying the model. John traced with his finger a valley running to the east from Mazerou. ‘This is the route we should take.’ it will take us to nearly the center of the Maurice’s perfect pentacle.

‘How accurate do you think this model is?’ asked Ximeme.

John grimaced. ‘No idea, but if it supposedly pinpoints the position of the perfect pentacle it must be reasonably accurate. We will soon find out.’

An hour later he walked with Ximene close to the river along the valley below St Feriole. It was the very essence of a summer’s day. The sun was fierce but in the shadow of the trees, it was cool and fragrant. The trees and shrubs along the riverbank hid their progress, from the Château, from St Feriole.

Eventually they reached a point where John thought it was safe to emerge from cover. To his satisfaction the stream extended into a pool with a sandy beach, shaded by trees. Where the stream entered the pool there was a flat grassy area, almost circular. Behind this, the bulk of mountains two to the east provided a splendid backdrop. 

John turned to Ximene. ‘ Hmm, the model was remarkably accurate. I feel that we have been almost guided to this place. It bears an uncanny resemblance to the Elysian Fields I dreamed of when I was close to death. Perhaps it is God’s Holy Ground.

Chapter 45 — The Equinox

This morning was different. John turned over but before he could relax, he saw on the wall behind the bed a very strange effect.

The pennant on the wall had ceased to be something they even noticed, but now, in the early morning, light streaming through the window highlighted the area surrounding the pennant. Also the light created two extra lines which ran outwards from the star, until they made perfect intersections with both the upper and lower sides of the pennant, where they met the lance.

John shook Ximene’s shoulder.’Ximene! Ximene! Look! On the wall.’

Ximene appeared disinterested. John tried again. ‘Ximene look!
Eventually, she lifted her head. The additional lines seemed to get brighter and brighter.

Ximene jumped into a kneeling position. She immediately cast a shadow which obscured one of the additional lines. ‘How can this be happening?’

She waved an arm which created a moving shadow. ‘It is obviously something to do with that window. Is it like the solstice at Monségur? Is today some special day?’

Then, even more urgently. John quickly! John the illumination is moving… as the sun continues to rise…it is fading!’

John did not attempt to copy the diagram. He jumped up, grabbed the blue makeup bottle and brush and feverishly traced the lines directly onto the wall.

Ximene ran around him, backing away to get a clearer view. ‘Why? What on earth does it mean?’

“I have no idea… Oh! why haven’t we noticed it before! I now think the whole image on the wall is a map. What we thought were cracks in the wall are actually part of a map, physical features, perhaps valleys or rivers. What we thought was a pennant is probably not a pennant!

Ximene interrupted. ’What is now more obvious is that there are two focus points where the top and bottom edges of what we thought was a pennant, intersect with what we thought was a lance. The additional lines pass through those same points. Three lines all intersecting at two different points. It must mean something.’

The display had now faded away. John ran to the window, and observed that there were lines embedded in the glass, which he had previously thought were just imperfections. John looked again at the wall.

Ximene continued to speak. ‘Oh… John. Suppose it is a map, What we thought was a star could be the pentacle, the holy pentacle Maurice was telling us about.

She could hardly contain her excitement. ‘ I know we both wanted a hard training session this morning, but can we abandon it? I don’t think I can do anything else until I have a better understanding of the message we have been sent! ’

John looked at the additional lines. ‘It all seems so precise. We should make a copy of what is on the wall and compare it with the three-dimensional map on the landing.

They ate a simple breakfast and did just that. In the event, it was the rivers, which provided the key. When they looked at the three-dimensional map they realised there was a direct correlation between the valleys on the map and what they had originally thought were cracks in the wall of the tower room. ‘It is a map and where the three lines intersect, must be targets. the map is intended to guide us to those targets!’

They left a message for Maurice asking for more information on the geography and history of the area.

There was a frustrating delay of over an hour before he responded. He was in a jovial mood. ‘What can I do for you?’

John scratched the back of his head. You told us about the east of the map, but you never mentioned the west of the map or the rivers?’

Maurice smiled. ‘I have always thought it was rather beautiful but you are the first of my visitors to show any interest in it. He ran his finger over the map. ‘See here is Mazerou, where we are now. The river just to the west is the Aude. The villages along the Aude starting at the south are Quillan’ he jabbed the map with his finger. ‘Here’. He slowly moved his finger along the river to the north. ‘Campagne sur Aude, Esperaza, Couisa, Alet les Bains, Limoux, Carcassonne. Oh! and here on this small tributary to the Aude , the Brézihou is Brenac. But what else do you want to know. Last time we looked at the map together I told you about the perfect pentacle and the devil’s line, didn’t I?

John nodded. ‘ And the fact that the bishops thought the map to be in some way heretical

‘Yes, I thought I did. but perhaps I didn’t tell you about the treasure.’

John and Ximene exchanged glances ‘Treasure?’ They exclaimed in unison.

‘ Umm. At one stage this area was the last Visigothic stronghold north of the Pyrenees. They had a fabulous treasure which some say was the treasure taken from the Temple of the Jews in Jerusalem by the Roman Emperor Titus. No one knows what happened to the treasure. It was last seen in Toulouse just before they were driven out by the Franks.

They maintained their stronghold here for a very long time but eventually were again driven out. They left for Aragon and further south. He sighed and pointed to the area which John and Ximene knew was covered by the pentacle. ‘The City of Rhedae once covered the whole of this plain. Some people say that it was the largest and richest city ever to have existed.

He paused and sighed again. ‘Now, other than a small village, still known as Rhedae, it is deserted! There are recurring questions about what happened to the riches. Some people say that the whole of the Visigothic treasure was transported to Toledo, the Visigothic capital south of the Pyrenees. or to Narbonne, where they maintained a stronghold for another twenty years. Others say that the final fall of Rhedae, in the face of Frankish aggression, was so rapid that there was no opportunity to move the treasure . If the second group is correct the treasure may still be here, hidden somewhere!’

Again John and Ximene exchanged glances.

John stroked his cheek.’ Maurice have you ever heard of clues to where the treasure might be hidden?’

Maurice was suddenly guarded, concerned. ‘No. but why are you asking? I hope you are not intending to search the area! You have seen for yourselves that the valley is deserted and you can explore it at will with no risk, but I must warn you. The towns and even the villages are another issue. The Franks took over this Château for their own purposes and the towns and villages have also been repopulated by them.

They are by nature suspicious, defensive people. Anything which is in any way unusual is witchcraft or worse. Strangers are to be suspected of any foul deed and are to be imprisoned and abused at their whim. You could put yourselves in great danger.’

Chapter 46 Analysis

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.

‘We have walked up and down the valley leading to the training ground and ridden to the mountains beyond so many times. I can now identify quite easily the mountains, and the valley. Look there, that is the training ground, and there is Château Mazerou itself and St Ferriol on the hill above it.’

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.

Xime nodded ‘The tower room’.

They soon found the map was heavy and difficult to maneuver up the stairwell. 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”.’

‘Didnt Maurice say Gods Holy Ground?’

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

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

Ximene apologized ‘I cannot read them all, 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 honour 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.

John sighed

‘Ximene, can you 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 paused and stared at the map. ‘Wait a minute, look, the lines are already there, totally unnoticeable because of the number of times it has been polished but they are there.’ He went and got one of his throwing knives from a drawer.

Ximene caught his hand. ‘No John the blade is too broad we need to to get a fine kitchen knife like the ones you used to cut up the meat when you were teaching me to cook.

‘They are still in the cellar.’ John ran down the stairs.

He returned with the kitchen knife and carefully followed the faint lines cut into the surface of the map

It was nearly two hours before he had completed the task.

John walked slowly round the map examining it from every angle. “I don’t believe this… the points of that large gold star…’

‘Pentacle, John, Pentacle.’

‘Maurice was right. The Points of the pentacle are easily identified. They lie exactly on five high points on the map.’

‘What?  What? Let me see.’

She checked and re-checked. ‘There is no doubt about it! Five significant high points evenly distributed to form the points of a pentacle!

Ximene expressed her satisfaction. ‘So to me, it is now obvious that this is a guide to those intersections which we identified this morning the difference is that we now know where they are. Did you hear the mention of treasure?’

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,

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

Table Of Contents



List of Places

Table of Contents

Pseudo History