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Fracture of illusion-Chapter 2

by starsailor 

Posted: 11 August 2003
Word Count: 3189
Summary: This is the second chapter of my on-going work, fracture of illusion

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Chapter 2: Beyond the Veil

John was led into a plush, but old fashioned office, with oak panelling and row upon row of legal books, most of which seemed not to have been moved in years. He sat in an uncomfortable chair, while Claybourne sat opposite him across a large oak desk.
‘First things first’ he said ‘Tea, coffee?’
‘Coffee, please , black, no sugar’ The man picked up the telephone, and relayed their orders down the line to the receptionist.
‘Now, then’ he started. ‘Let me begin by explaining the course of events which have led up to today. About eighteen months ago, your uncle, Sir William Hawke, who was an old friend of mine, came to me with some disturbing news. We arranged a meeting here, and he explained the most strangest things to me. He was under the impression that, shall we say, shadowy parties, were coming interested in him, and he was beginning to fear for his life.’ This news shocked John, what kind of things was his uncle into?
‘What shadowy parties?’ He asked.
‘He didn’t elaborate further as to their identities. Well, I didn’t believe a word of it, your uncle was always, um eccentric.’ Which was true, John thought to himself.
There was a slight pause as the drinks arrived. Once the receptionist had left he continued.
‘Anyway, I tried to reassure him that nothing could be happening, whilst also trying to get to the bottom of what was worrying him. What he told me was that he had come across a manuscript, or tablet of some kind whilst working abroad, where exactly he wouldn’t tell me, written in an unknown language. He had no idea how to translate it, but ever since he had returned from his trip, he had seen people following him, strange calls in the middle of the night, with no one at the other end. He was even under the impression that his phone was being bugged.’
‘It does seem strange that all this happens, and then six months later he has a heart attack’ John said. ‘ Well, if was due to this kind of stress, or something more sinister, I have no idea.’
The lawyer continued. ‘The reason he came to me was to put in my procession a letter, addressed to you, which I was instructed to give exactly one year after his death. Why, I don’t know, but he was adamant, not one day more, or less. I thought he was just being overly dramatic, but clearly these things have come to pass, and therefore, here you are.’
He stood up, and walked over to a safe, inserted into the wall. Opening it, he removed a bounded letter, which bizarrely had a wax seal on it.
‘I have no idea why it is bound in such a way’ Claybourne admitted.
‘William never told me, and maybe it was just his way. He did leave some other instructions however. One, you must not open this letter, until you at his home, or should I now say, your home. Two, you must not open it until after noon. Well by the time you get home, that will already be settled I imagine. Three, and he stressed this is the most important, you must not tell anyone else of this letter, not a soul. He was quite adamant on this fact.’ The old man paused
‘There I now believe I have discharged my service to you, and your uncle. What is in there must be important. I trust that whatever you find enclosed you will act upon it in the proper way. Your uncle was very proud of you, John, very proud indeed. He always spoke highly of you.’ John was silent for a moment.
‘Thank you very much. That means a lot to me, Sir William was a true gentleman, and I truly miss him.’
‘As do a lot of people.’ Said Claybourne standing up, and shaking his hand wholeheartedly. The meeting was at an end.
John drove straight back home, his mind on the letter, in his briefcase on the passenger street. He didn’t drive recklessly, but he didn’t exactly take his time either.
By the time he reached home, it was indeed after noon. He felt like he needed some lunch, but was too nervous to eat anything. He sat down on a seat in his study and studied the envelope. It was some kind of paper, but not the normal writing paper, and the strangest thing was the seal. Looking at it closely John could see the impression of a horse, with two men riding upon it. John could hardly believe his eyes. He knew exactly what that was, the symbol of the Knights Templar.
From the many, many books in the house, and from a lifetime of reading and being surrounded by such things, John probably knew more about the Order of the Temple of Solomon than the lay person. Most peoples’ idea of the Knights Templar was that of the crusades, of virtious Christian Knights battling Muslims in order to claim the Holy Land for Christianity. However the truth was a bit more grey than this black and white image. Both sides of this conflict were guilty of the most horrible acts of violence and cruelty.
The Knights Templar were established by a group of French noblemen, with uncertain motives. They were clearly interested in the religion and history of the holy Land, more closely with that of the temple of Solomon. This temple was built by the biblical king in order to house the treasures of the Jewish people, and more importantly, the holy of holies, the ark of the covenant, the housing place the stone tablets on which the ten commandments were written. It was also the worldly housing place of God himself. The Temple site had been destroyed by the Romans, when they stopped an uprising of the Jews around the 1st Century, and until that time had been left, unaltered. There were stories that the Templars had excavated the site, and discovered something, something unknown.
All this was legend and conspiracy stories. The actual history, which John knew, was that the Knights Templar grew powerful throughout Europe, with many important noblemen in their ranks. In the end, they grew too powerful, and the French King at the time, decided, along with the Pope, to destroy the order. Creating charges that the Knights Templar were committing acts against Christianity, by worshiping idols, and performing obscene rituals, the French King captured most of the leadership of the order, and extracted confessions from them by torture. Then, overnight, the order was smashed and never heard from again. The day on which the French King had his orders carried out was on a Friday, the thirteen day of the month, which is where we get our superstition from.
But what was the Templars seal doing on this letter, John wondered. They were dissolved over 600 years ago.
There was only one way to find out. He carefully lifted the seal, taking care not to damage it, and opened up a letter from his dead Uncle. He began to read.
‘If you are reading this John, then I have, in all likelihood passed, on. There should be a year inbetween my death and you reading this letter, so I trust that your grief has run its course. That may sound harsh, and insensitive, but this information is of such importance that I cannot afford to wallow in such things, and neither can you’
John paused, the bluntness hitting him. This was most unlike his uncle, who had always been jovial and good natured. The only reason why he was like this must be because of the importance of the information. He read on.
‘I trust Claybourne has spoken to you about the conditions in which you should read this letter. These must be followed. If not, please John stop now, do not read further. ‘
John thought about what Claybourne had said to him. He was at home, and it was afternoon. The silence part he couldn’t complete until he had read the rest of the letter and knew its contents.

‘I will try and be as open as I can in this letter, John. However you must understand that certain truths I will not tell you, for your safety, and also because you must discover some by yourself
‘For all of my life I have been fascinated by the past, and have endeavoured to discover more. I can see that you have that same urge to discover, not just the past, but the present and the future as well. I hope that will set you in good stead for what I am about to tell you.
This may sound strange to you, but for the majority of my adult life, certainly since you were born, I have been working, for a secret organisation. I trust you recognised the seal on this letter. The seal of the Knights Templar. This organisation is not dead John, no matter what the history books, tell you. They discretely contacted me when I gained my Professorship, and asked me if I would work for them on an informal basis, obtaining artefacts from sites, and working on pieces they had obtained from other sources. At first, I refused. I doubted that they even existed, and I certainly doubted their motives. Their contact to me was called Tom Smith, and over time, he gained my trust and confidence.
John, there are terrible powers, and forces in this world of which most people know nothing about. There are people out there whose only wish is for dead and terror upon all of us. They have access to what can only be described as supernatural powers, obtained by dark acts and ritual. I have come to learn that the Temple, (as the Knights Templar are now known) work to protect the innocent from the darkness. I have seen what evil can do. Those times in which I left you and your Aunt, not discussing where I was going. I was working for the Temple. Helping, in my own small way to safeguard the life in which we all have the pleasure to lead. In truth, I only helped translate ancient artefacts, objects of protection, but I feel that this is the most important thing that I have done in my life.
‘The Temple is a very secret organisation. Most people who know of its existence work for it, but a few, like myself, work outside it, only being there when needed.
‘I had hoped that you would never have discovered this. It was my plan for you to be blissfully unaware of this and to lead a normal life. Alas, events have overtaken me, and I now am forced to use you to do what I, now cannot.
‘I was sent, by the Temple, to South America a few months ago. A new dig was raising some interesting discoveries, and I was needed to see exactly what they were. It was high in the Andes, and at first, it seemed to be a regularly minor, smallish enclosure. At first, although the finds were good, there was nothing out of the ordinary. Then about two weeks in, a stone tablet was discovered. John, this was nothing like I had ever seen before. It was about two feet high and oval shaped. The material itself was nothing special, only stone, normal to the other finds, and what you would expect in the area, but it was inscribed, a third of it in Hebrew. John, what was a Hebrew inscription doing, ten thousand feet up a Chilean mountain? But only a third of it was Hebrew. The other was something else, and I have no idea what. You know I am not bragging when I say that I am at least familiar with all the languages which are known to man. But I have never seen this before.
‘I managed to hide it before anyone else got a good look at it. I knew that this was something extraordinary, and I had to get it back to England to study it.
‘It took a bit of cunning and a lot of luck to get it past customs, but as soon as I reached home I called Mr Smith and informed him of my discovery.
‘He told me to work on the tablet to find some way of working out the inscription. The Hebrew part was relatively easy, but the rest, up to this point I have been unable to work out.
‘The part I was able to translate goes as follows.

‘In each creation of the Fallen, the one will become stronger. To end the cycle of death before it is too late, the Skilled must find the (proper noun -WH). The path will be long, and only two of the 111 will be able to tread upon it. The two will prove themselves by ending the holiest danger. It is only they who can stop the Fallen one. The words of the ancestors will provide the start of the path’

‘John, I have no idea what this means. Before I was able to tell Smith of my findings, someone searched through this house, and my office taking all my notes. I have received phone calls and threats against my life, and I fear that I can trust no one.
‘I have found the safest thing to do is to hide this information. I have placed the tablet in the house in hiding. Through my life I have developed a working knowledge of what you would call magic. In reality it is a way of using elemental forces of nature to perform in the way in which you want. I know that this may sound crazy, but it is the truth. I placed a spell on the hiding place in the house, to protect it from being found. I have linked this spell to my own life, and it runs out today, a year after my death. From today the tablet is in the open John, and you must protect it, I trust no one else. It is only if I fail, or am unable to complete what I need to do, you will be reading this.
‘ I do not trust the Temple, with this. Although they are working for the powers of good, they were the only ones who knew of the tablet, I believe that the people who want it have somehow access to them.
‘ The only other person who I believe can help you is a ex-student of mine, Helena Sinclair. She had some rather interesting theories on a mother civilisation which existed before all others. I believe that there is a chance that this may be connected to ‘the ancestors’ inscribed on the tablet. You must work out a way of finding the answers to the questions this poses John. I have the utmost faith in you. If all else fails, then trust in the Temple, but be wary.
‘I have nothing more to tell you, picking up this mantle will not be easy, and may lead you into danger. I hope that the delay between the hiding of the tablet and today will give you some freedom. Hopefully, the interested parties will be looking elsewhere, or will have forgotten about it. A slender hope I know, but the best I can do.
‘I am not well John, in all likelihood my death will be a natural one, so don’t look for my killer, unless you wish to pick a fight with Father Time. Place this letter in the fireplace, and all will become clear
‘Good luck, your loving Uncle Will’.

John was still and silent for some time. It was all to much to take in. Magic, Knights Templar, strange evil forces, and that strange inscription. He read it all again, getting it all clear in his mind. Most of it he couldn’t accept, it went against everything he had been taught in his life. But he knew his Uncle. He wouldn’t be open to flights of fantasy unless he truly believed in it. If his uncle did, then he would also keep an open mind about everything, he resolved.
Clearly the last sentence was an instruction to get to the tablet. He made sure that he knew to memory the contents, especially the inscription, and placed the letter, along with the seal into the empty, unlit fireplace.
Immediately the letter burst into flames. John leapt back to avoid burning himself.
He looked at the flames, instead of the expected fire, strange symbols made of flame were burning off from the letter. He recognised a few, but most were a complete mystery to him.
He looked to above the fireplace, where a large painting of a West country landscape hung. Silently it began to swing out, revealing a large alcove, set back in the wall. Inside was the tablet. It was as his uncle described it. About two feet tall, made of dark grey stone, it was very impressive. He looked closer at the writing upon it. He could see the top third did seem to be Hebrew, from what John knew of it. Of the actual translation he had no idea. The other third he had no idea about. Sharp and angular, it could have been some sort of cuneiform, but not being knowledgeable about such things, John had no idea. Along with the tablet was a bound collection of notes, which must relate to the work that his Uncle had already done on the inscription.
He needed a course of action. It was clear that as it was made of stone, it would be much too heavy to carry about, and if half of what his uncle had written was true, it was safer leaving it hidden in this place. He decided that he needed to start with documenting as if was any other artefact. Taking his camera he took pictures from many angles, making sure that he covered in detail all possible features. The next thing he did was to take a rubbing of the inscription to ensure that he had a copy of everything he could. The next was to check the part that he knew he could work on. He wasn’t a linguist, but from the many notes of his Uncles, he was able to check his uncle’s translation. It matched exactly. The only part he wasn’t sure of was the part that his uncle also didn’t know. It must have been some sort of noun, but from the context, he had no further idea.
At this point he was stumped. He read through his Uncles notes, but it was quite clear he was out of his depth. His training was in science, not ancient languages.
Although he probably knew more about the subject than most people, this was beyond him. He decided to leave this problem, and sleep on it. Things are always better after a good nights sleep.

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Comments by other Members

Nell at 16:37 on 11 August 2003  Report this post
Andy, something really strange seems to have happened to your speech marks and apostrophies in the upload! Nevertheless, the writing and the story carried me easily all the way through to the end. There are good ingredients here - a mysterious stone, the Knights Templar, an evil organisation and magic too, so you've made a really good start and hooked the reader. I must have read the chapter after this one first - this feels like chapter one to me - but I see it's headed chapter two, so there must be a part I still haven't read.

There are a few typos but you'll find those easily enough. One thing I wasn't sure of was the way the stone was revealed to John - it seemed a little over the top somehow, and made me question the reality of it all. I want to suspend disbelief with a story like this, and I found that having this happen so early in the novel made me aware of the fact that this is fiction and brought me to with a jolt. I'm sure there'll be magic (and I love magic) and I'd find that easier to accept, maybe that other was a bit of a cliche. But I'm enjoying this and look forward to more.

Best, Nell.


I've just discovered chapter one, so I've done this in completely the wrong order! Will read it now while this part is still fresh in my mind.

starsailor at 20:10 on 11 August 2003  Report this post
I know, I was cut n' pasting on a strange computer and all kinds of weird stuff happened.

I have sorted it out know hopefully.
I agree with you, Chapter 1 isn;t as good as this one, not much happens, and it's more of a scene setter. I feel a bit more confident, and have a better understanding of what works and what doesn't. I'm still at an early stage and feeling my way in.



Nell at 08:46 on 12 August 2003  Report this post
Andy, glad you've managed to sort out the weird stuff, and don't worry about chapter one - many writers find that they have to rewrite early chapters when the book is finished - I think I read somewhere that one of J.K.Rowling's first chapters was rewritten fifteen times!

ginag at 21:09 on 13 August 2003  Report this post

I have to agree with Nell, the further you get into a novel the more you learn and the more you want to change. I also think most of chapter one could be integrated into this chapter as it is - to be blunt - much better.

Keep going, I look forward to seeing more.


Hilary Custance at 13:26 on 14 August 2003  Report this post
Hi Andrew, welcome to the group. This chapter has a good sense of mystery and intrigue. You have set several balls rolling and I am interested in where they will land up. I like the archaeology very much, though you need to be careful to incorporate the 'information' bits into the story so that we absorb new/abstruse material without being too aware of the teacher. I have little interest, personally, in magical stories, but you have managed to keep it sufficiantly grounded to hold me for the time being. I shall read on, good luck Cheers, Hilary

kmerignac at 17:07 on 02 September 2003  Report this post
Again, I feel this is much better and runs more smoothly, but it remains an intriguing story and the kind I'm likely to go for. You've got a good imagination (I like the bit about the tablet coming into view over the fireplace), and I'm keen to find out more.
A couple of things - technical and typo.
'well, if was due to this kind of stress' (if 'it'?)
'was to put in my procession' (possession?)
I felt you could lift out 'there was only one way to find out', which struck me as a bit clichéd, and the text would only be stronger for it.
The commas need to be looked at, but a read through will no doubt sort it out.
But I like it, and will read ch 3!
Yours, Kate.

old friend at 21:02 on 04 October 2003  Report this post
Hello Andy,

A nice tale. The main comment I can make is to encourage you to read your work very carefully, and as if had been written by someone else. Look for words and phrases that you can delete or change.

'relayed their orders...'etc
'let me begin by explaining...etc.
'strangest' or 'most strange' (not 'most strangest').
'becoming' not 'coming'...

There are quite a few hurdles that will stop the reader. 'Taking his camera he took...' Your aim should be to have your reader absorbing the plot and characters, as smoothly as possible.

I shall read the other chapters. Thank you for this as it does show good creativity.

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