45 The Equinox

‘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’

John Stanley – 23rd September 1355

One of the delights of the tower room was that it was warmed very quickly by the rising sun.

It was possible to lie in bed and watch the sunrise. The gentle glow of sunrise soon became a glare. Although it was then necessary to turn over to avoid the glare, it was possible to luxuriate in the radiant warmth.

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 in through the window the cracks were highlighted. There were 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 the pennant 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 some of the additional features. ‘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! I now think the whole image on the wall is a map, but what kind of a map? What we thought were cracks in the wall are actually part of a map, physical features, perhaps 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 sides of what we thought was a pennant interset with what we thought was a lance. The additional lines pass through those same points. For each focus point, three lines all intersecting, 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. That isn’t just a star it is a pentacle, probably a perfect pentacle, I have read about them. She frowned ‘I can’t remember exactly what I read except that when astronomers observed the movement of the planet Venus, the movements plotted a perfect pentacle. If this is indeed a map, the intersections may be precise targets, which this strange display was intended to help us find.’

She looked with satisfaction at John’s completed handiwork. She could hardly contain her excitement. ‘ John 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. The upper and lower intersections do seem to be what you have called “targets”. Oh, If the lines have something to do with a plan of this area perhaps 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.’

They left a message for Maurice asking for help.

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

‘We wondered if you could tell us a little more about the map?”

They climbed up to the landing.

Maurice smiled. ‘ What do you want to know?

‘Well, for instance, why would the Bishops throw it out.’

Maurice smiled. ‘I have always thought it was rather beautiful but you are the first of my visitors to show any interest in it. I don’t really know but I got the impression that the bishops thought it represented some heretical message.’

Heretical? A Map?

Maurice blinked and then screwed up his eyes. ‘Traditionally the whole of this area has been 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.’

Ximene glanced at John ‘Pentacle?’

Maurice raised his eyebrows. ‘And that means something to you?’

Ximene shook her head. ‘Not really. but it is something I have read about.

‘This Pentacle?’

‘No just in general, how they are geometrically precise

Maurice nodded and 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 nodded. ‘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. If you look carefully you will see outside of the area covered by the pentacle there is a faint triangle. I think that it must have originally been engraved on the map but after years and years of polishing it is now hardly visible. I have always assumed it was intended to define the limits of “God’s Holy Ground” but it covers a wider area than the area covered by the pentacle.

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 winced.  ‘You are correct, think of the whole of the plain around Rhedae as a relatively flat shelf on the northern edge of the Pyrenees. To the east and south of that shelf are the real Pyrenees. He walked around the map until he was stood alongside John running his hand along the southern side of the map as he moved. ‘Cardu, Bugarach, Guinxe, Quiére – all very impressive, all higher than the Points of the pentacle. However the points of the pentacle are still 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. When 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.

Heresy? there is also a belief that the pentacle is a guide to the final resting place of Jesus and Magdelaine and that the holy grail is not a chalice but Magdelene’s womb. I think the bishops believed these stories. Marice chuckled. ‘ Now. I don’t, but I suppose it might be a guide to a different kind of treasure.’

John and Ximene exchanged glances. John pinched his nose between his fingers lips. Treasure!

‘At various stages over the last five hundred years, this area has been gradually depopulated. At one stage it was last Visigothic stronghold north of the Pyrenees. The Visigoths had a fabulous treasure which some say was the treasure taken from the Temple of the Jews in Jerusalem by the Roman Emperor Titus. it is said that the Visigoths sacked Rome and took the treasure away with them, 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 ‘Now, other than a small village, 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. 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, somewhere!

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 once again 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. Brenac is at the very point of the triangle I just indicated to you .

John stroked his cheek. ’ Maurice, have you any knowledge, any idea of how the pentacle might give guidance to where the treasure might be hidden?’

‘No.’ Maurice was suddenly guarded, concerned. ‘Why are you asking? I hope you are not intending to visit these places! You have seen for yourselves that the countryside 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. The current inhabitants 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 or reported to the inquisition. You could put yourselves in great danger.’

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

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List of Places

Table of Contents

Pseudo History