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Authors: Adriana Koulias

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Historical, #Thrillers

Temple of The Grail

BOOK: Temple of The Grail

in Brazil and migrated to Australia with her family when she was nine years
old. She has studied Philosophy, History and Esoteric Science for fifteen years
and lectures on these topics. Adriana is married with two children and lives in









edition published 2013 by Zuriel Press Pty Ltd

First published 2004 in Picador by Pan
Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd

Copyright © Adriana Koulias 2004

All rights
reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by any person
or entity, including internet search engines or retailers, in any form or by
any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, or by any
information storage and retrieval system, without the prior written permission
of the publisher.

National Library of Australia

Cataloguing-in-Publication data:

Koulias, Adriana. Temple of the Grail

ISBN 978-0-9874620-3-9


ean de Joinville closed the manuscript. Outside the sky fell
over the grounds of the palace in a torrent and the wind made the torches
flicker, threatening to deliver him into darkness. An attendant entered the
apartment and prepared to set down a tray of scented tea and honeyed cakes.
Joinville shook his head and waved the servant away, searching for the cross
beneath his garments.

He was afraid. He had not been afraid in a long time.

It took him some moments to lower
himself to the floor. The stone was cold and his knees old and thin of skin. He
knelt to pray for his soul and for God’s guidance in the matter of the
manuscript. For what must he do with it? How must he hide it and its secret
from the Pope and King Philip, whose hospitality he enjoyed?

At the hour of Matins he called for a
trusted servant and made arrangements for him to travel to Spain, telling him
only where he must take the item wrapped in linen and nothing more regarding

He made his way to his pallet then
and, overcome with fatigue, called for his confessor


ternal, unchangeable and infinite God, whose goodness knows
no bounds and no limits, eternal virtue and perfection, embracing all
qualities, from whom all things spring and without whom there is nothing, who
art good without bounds, great without limit, eternal without time, omnipresent
without space, grant this poor sinner, in thy infinite goodness, the soundness
to impart a clear and concise account of this sacred and most holy wisdom which
thou hast favoured to leave in my care.

Now in exile, this servant living on
the threshold of death longs for the eternal and blissful rest that has been
promised; to be lost in the silence of nothingness in which the spirit seeks
the womb of the universe; where there is no time and space, or anything else, save
the quiet perpetual union with the all-embracing divine light, in whose shadow
the devout soul stands. But for now, I sit in silence, in contemplation of my
eternal ascent towards that naught of naughts. My back torments me, my hands
ache, and as I prepare to write on a parchment that is hairy, I tremble as
though I were drenched with water, for I am never warm these days. Perhaps
Brother Setubar had been right those many years ago at the monastery, that is,
fear manifests itself as a paleness, a chill? As I prepare to recall the events
of those times I feel my body weakened by the demons of deception that compel
me to a dumb silence . . . and yet, obedience begs that I must tell this tale .
. . even as mountains coil and fold in a world that has grown old and hardened
in spirit, as you have perhaps already seen; even as humility becomes unknown,
and man hides his face from the truth because, once it is revealed, its faithful
signals cannot be denied.

Only a few days have passed since I
received word of my old master’s death, and since that moment I have been
filled with a consummate grief. There were so many things left unspoken between
us, for the nature of our parting was confused and hasty. Perhaps I should have
told him that I loved him with a spiritual sweetness, that I admired him
deeply? But words drift from this sinner’s lips as an autumn breeze passes
silently over a wheatfield, for what does the wheat care if the breeze is
filled with sadness?

Now, as his form turns to dust, can
his eyes see the rosy dawn, or the pale snowflake as it falls? What would be
the point of saying that I still see him so clearly? Should I tell you, dear
reader, that I remember his countenance as broad and frank, accentuated by an
aquiline nose whose character was perhaps a little Roman? And that above his
eyes – the colour of the north sea – hovered the thickest of brows
that, in moments of concentration, became a mirror to his thinking? It may not
interest you to know that I loved him, not because I thought him the wisest or
perhaps the bravest man – though I now see that indeed he came closer to
these attributes than anyone I have since known – but because he had a
good sense of humour and an air of adventure about him, a liberal nature that
was much the opposite of mine. Consequently, I confess to having many times
mistaken his imperfections for virtues, and his virtues for so many
imperfections. Now that I am older and wiser, I know that a good man has a
measure of each.

All I have left of him is a letter
sealed with his seal, a testament that will accompany this chronicle to its
owner when I too have left this mortal carcass behind me.

Finally, I look out from my cell to
the endless blue waters of Famagusta knowing that I will soon be reunited with
the moon, and the sun, and the stars . . . and there, shimmering with the
brightest of lights, will be my dearest friend and mentor, casting his ray of
goodness over the path that I must tread to divinity, in the same way that he
shone the light of knowledge over a young mind those many years ago.

And so if every instant of time is
like a pinprick of eternity, as Marcus Aurelius tells us, let us then make
haste . . . slowly.

In the year of our Lord 1254, the
year that Frederick II, the excommunicate emperor died, ending 116 years of
Hohenstaufen rule, I was a youth of no more than sixteen springs – though
at the time I would have said that I was already a man. It was also the year in
which my master’s dearest friend, Jean de Joinville, was released from his
incarceration in an infidel prison at the side of King Louis, and the year in
which my life became inexorably changed by the events that will become, in the
course of this tale, apparent.

I was six years old when I was placed
in the care of a Templar knight of good repute (whose name I will only reveal
as Andre), after the untimely death of my father during the battle of La
Forbie. In the context of this manuscript, my master was nigh forty years of
age, of robust body and strong complexion, an early riser, though he slept very
little, and a lover of all things pertaining to nature.

He was a ‘poulain’, that is to say,
he was a colonist and therefore born of mixed blood. He rarely spoke about his
family, but youthful ears being what they are, I learnt much by overhearing a
little here and a little there. I came to know that his father had fought
beside Richard Coeur de Lion in the third Crusade, and that his mother had been
the daughter of a Christian from Alexandria. This made comprehensible the
darkness of his skin, his singular ways and his peculiar vital spirit. A spirit
that in my opinion seemed always a little impious. However, the infidel in his
blood made him an excellent physician, as we are told Alexandrians are
exceedingly astute in the medicinal arts. From him, I not only learnt which
herbs were best for treating wounds, and how to mend a broken limb, but also,
and perhaps more importantly, to cherish knowledge, always remembering that a
man is only truly honourable when he honours another. He also taught me the
practicalities of holding a sword, and how to saddle a horse, and the best way
to ride in battle, for he was accomplished in all knightly duties, though I
suspect he did not wish that I should ever have use for such things.

It was thus, travelling in my
master’s train under the banner of the Red Cross, that I came to know the
wonders of the Islamic world even if, at the same time, I was witness to the
endless cruelty and brutality of battle.

My master encouraged me to read, for
he was a fine scholar, having spent some time in Paris and in the esteemed
school of Salerno before taking his vows. It was his belief that I should learn
of other things besides war and so, with his guidance, I became adequate in
Greek, and was therefore able to absorb the ideas of the Greek philosophers
from folios he found in his travels. These revealed a world of thought
previously unknown to me. But I am prideful, as my master often told me, for I
linger too long on insignificant details, when instead I should tell how, not
yet of fighting age, I was to become my master’s squire, as was the custom in
those days, not only in charge of his horses and armour but also his scribe and
confidant, taking an oath of loyalty that I, to this day, solemnly uphold.

As fate would have it, we remained
only a few short years in Outremer because, during the battle of Mansourah
under the orders of William of Sonnac, Grand Master of the Temple, my master
Andre was to become grievously wounded. His body never fully recovered and the
battle seemed to plague him. I believed him to have been torn by loyalties.
Perhaps his faith was not where it should have been? In any event, after a long
convalescence we left the holy land for a Templar house in France, in the
fateful area of Languedoc where my master would take up his position as
preceptor. I must pause here for one moment to acquaint you with this area’s
peculiarities and the turbulent, political miasma in which we found ourselves.

Languedoc is a province in the south
of France, separated from Aragon by a rugged and mostly impenetrable chain of
mountains known as the Pyrenees. In those dark days it was a very rich
province, held in cohesion by a succession of counts allied with the king of
Aragon. It was a province of harsh contrasts of climate and of temper, and it
enjoyed a close proximity to the East, to which it was tied by the umbilical
cord of the Templar Order. Many have attributed the infiltration of unorthodox
doctrine into this area to this peculiarity, however, for our purposes, suffice
it to say that with the passing of years it became home to a number of
heresies, the most infamous sects being those of Cathar and Waldensian origin.

For many years these sects flowered,
relying on the liberal attitude of the secular ecclesiastics, the noble
classes, and the Count of Toulouse. That is, until that horrible day when
thousands of northern knights led by Simon de Montfort with the sanctity of the
pope and king, descended like locusts on Languedoc in a war of persecution that
lasted more than forty years. Cities and towns were razed and brought to the
sword. Women, children and the elderly were killed indiscriminately. At Beziers
alone twenty thousand were slaughtered while seeking sanctuary in the churches,
as they knelt praying at the altars. My master condemned the Crusade against
the Cathars, saying that it was nothing more than a political exercise, whose
aim was the annexation of the region into the hands of the French king. Young
man that I was, I did not fully understand the extent of this terrible crime, believing
in the integrity of the mother church and its intentions with the full-hearted
religious zeal of one who holds an uncompromising view of the world, though I
had lived little in it.

The heretics argued; Christ had no
place to rest his head, while the pope had a palace, Christ was property-less
and penniless, the Christian prelates were rich and powerful, living off the
fattened calf while others starved. In truth the church had been in a state of
appalling corruption, and it was easy to see why it enjoyed no high esteem.
Stories were told of churches in which no mass had been said for many years
because priests busied themselves running their large estates. It was even
rumoured that the Archbishop of Narbonne never once visited his diocese! These
worldly priests and fat bishops were seen as the Pharisees reborn, the Holy
Church was the whore of Babylon; the clergy the synagogue of Satan, the pope
the antichrist. With no religious guidance and with hunger in their bellies the
people took matters into their own hands, preaching without licence, giving the
sacraments without having first been ordained into the priesthood. It was
impossible to stem the tide of reform; Languedoc was like a tree with poisoned
fruit. Even our blessed St Bernard, on his visit to the area half a century
before, had been more appalled by the corruption of the clergy than by the
heretics themselves. Later a young Dominic Guzman managed to convert some,
though for every conversion, there were many more who fell by the wayside. Count
Raymond of Toulouse, who had at first condoned the heresy, opposed the Crusade,
but recanted when faced with overwhelming papal pressure, and led his own army
of knights to slaughter those whom he had previously supported. Many noble
families that had been his benefactors, some of them Cathar believers, were
forced to take refuge in various Templar preceptories or face their fate on the
pyre. In the end, however, the count had been deceived, for his lands and
titles were passed to Alphonse, the brother of Louis IV, and therefore became
the property of the French king. This Crusade not only destroyed the cohesion
of the heretical groups, sending those who remained loyal to their beliefs
underground, but also meant the ruination of a once-lucrative area of rich

This was the situation, then, when we
arrived in Languedoc, almost ten years after the stronghold of Catharism,
Montsegur, was taken. At a time when the ravaged province attempted to rebuild
itself anew. So, dear reader, one cannot judge my master too harshly if he
seemed less than pleased at the prospect of his forthcoming designation. But as
I look back – with the clearer sight of one detached from the impatience
of youth – I know it was a fortuitous one, for not only did his injuries
make it impossible for him to serve his order with the required physical
strength, but had we not been sent to Languedoc I would not now have occasion
to narrate this remarkable story.

My master’s appointment seemed to
fill him with a terrible dissatisfaction. I suspect that he missed the hot
country of his birth and the doctoring that he loved so well, and so he was
seized (so it seemed to me) by a restless demon, filled with a desire for new
experiences from which he would draw some vague comfort. At times I did not
understand him, at least I did not try to. I followed him obediently though he
seemed to be a man tormented by many ideas in need of resolution.

A year after our arrival in France he
was called to Paris for an audience with the king who had, only months before,
returned from the holy land. Present at this meeting my master was surprised to
find Reginald Vichiers, Grand Master of the Temple, and the Paris Preceptor and
his treasurer. What grave and serious Templar business had wrenched the grand
master from his duties in Outremer? Grave matters indeed, for he had left the
commander of the order, Guy of Basainville in his stead, to face an attack on
our strongholds by the Mamluks.

After the customary formalities, we
were informed that our preceptory held the titles to a tract of land in the
mountains south of Carcassonne, the perpetual use of which had been granted to
the Cistercian order by Gerard of Ridefort in 1186. The grand master told us
that a monastery had since been erected on this site and that it housed monks
from the Cistercian rule. The abbot of Citeaux expressed concerns that the
abbey had not been brought to his attention, and that for many years it had
without the spiritual guidance of a mother house
– without its abbot ever having attended a meeting of the general
chapter! No matter how important these concerns may have been, they did not
justify the presence of the grand master and the preceptor at the meeting. No,
there were graver matters to be addressed, as we shall see.

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