HE IS THERE DEAD
by Skip Pulley
Southern France 1307
The humbling silence of a still autumn night is broken by jupiter’s thunder;
galloping horses heavily laden with their masters and bristling with
armaments reminiscent of the dark ages advent. Upon their riders shields and
crests were mysterious markings and on their gleaming white sashes was a
single red cross.
Onward they rode through small villages along rivers and streams. The
foundations of houses shook, and bodies of water rippled and churned as if at
the mercy of a great earthquake. Suddenly as if by invisible intervention they
slowed and eventually stopped. They rode around in a small area of black
soil. The horses whinnied and neighed one after another and seemed to be
speaking to each other while their riders remained silent. Some began to rear
and buck as if in pain, while their masters, unfazed by their actions, continued
to circle around as if they were looking for something. As they had halted
their advance, the leader of the horseman guided his stallion over to what
appeared to be bricks of stone or earth, covered in shrubs and foliage. He
dismounted, and approached the formation.
The other riders kept their distance and gathered several yards away.
As the warrior of unknown origin reached the pile of stone, he began to move
away the brush and dirt that had covered the formation. He removed his
helmet and clutched it tightly as he read what looked like text or markings.
The other men were afraid. They stared at their leader in anticipation. "What
is he looking for?" one soldier asked another. "Something that may save us
all." said Andre, the second in command. After a few minutes the knightly
figure stood against the horizon, replaced his helmet and mounted his horse.
He rode past the rest of the men and without a word to them, he waved them
onward again into the night. They numbered no more than six or seven, but
they were quite obviously fierce warriors and hard men. They rode through
the countryside without let or hindrance. No one knew where they had come
from, or what they had come for. The atmosphere was hazardous, and their
quest had received nothing except treachery and deceit. There had been a
great purge on the Continent as ordered by the hierarchy of the Church.
Those deemed to be infidels, pagans, usurpers and other enemies of the
pseudo universal faith were to be put to torture and death.
Though not in the grand and carnivorous fashion of the crusades, but in the
vile and totalitarian manner of those who sought to keep and harness the
power and politics of secret origins, which was foreign and strange to most.
It was a dark time. A time of lamentation.
On the horizon there appeared the silhouette of a small fortress on the crest of
a hill. As the unknown horsemen rode toward the pass that lead up to the
fortress, they encountered a moat. "Follow the trench", said their leader and
waved two men in both directions. They returned minutes later. "The moat
surrounds the hill sire, except for the steepest slope which dare I say we
cannot ascend." The lead knight dismounts. "Andre, give me the standard." he
said. "Here my lord" Andre answered and handed the knight a long staff with
a pennant on the end. The knight ripped the pennant from the staff and threw
it like a javelin into the water, which was no more than fifty feet across. The
shaft struck endwise with half of its length exposed. "We will cross here" said
the knight, who mounted his steed. As the begin to cross the dismal water,
one of the men sees a young boy running out of the forest toward the soldiers.
"Look there" he said, "see to him" said one of the men. "Wait," said their
leader, "he is saying something". He was carrying a sackcloth and running
toward them. The riders pulled back on the reigns.
"Do not cross" said the boy, "there is great danger". "What danger, young
one?" asked Andre. The boy pulled from his cloth the carcass of a dead
animal and tossed it in the still water. Instantly the water began to wake and
boil with violent convulsions and chop with waves and undertow. "You
cannot cross here" the boy said. "I shall lead you."
"Sire" said one of the men to their leader, who held up his right hand in
response, and reached out his left hand for the boy to help him onto the horse.
The boy took his hand and they again rode off into the darkness. After a few
minutes they came to a clump of brush and trees that covered the moat. "It is
here, sir" said the boy.
They slowed to a trot and the boy dismounted. He ran ahead and pointed to
an area at the steep side of the hill. "There Sir" he said. "What is it boy"
asked Andre. "You must strike the Symbol to reveal the bridge" he said. The
lead knight dismounted and took an arrow and bow from his pack. He drew
back the bow and launched the arrow which sailed directly into a carving in
the rock. The sound of ropes unwinding and vines snapping was followed by
a large drawbridge falling over the moat. The horses reared as the bridge
slammed to the ground, revealing a hidden passage. The knight mounted his
horse and led them forward. After a while, they appeared at the foot of
another hill, with dead trees and rotton vegitation all around them.
The boy dismounted. "Follow the path to the fortress, the priest awaits you."
he said. The leader of the men turned his horse toward the boy and reached
inside his breastplate. The boy stood straight and silent while the other men
looked on. The brave knight, as by now the boy had surmised what they were
so, pulled from around his neck a medallion, with unknown markings, and
threw it down to the boy. Without a word they reared their horses and again
rode forth up the hill toward the settlement. The boy looked on with
admiration and bewilderment. The small column of riders traversed the
ground before the hill making their way to its' apex. The light from the moon
reflected off the desolate soil as the hooves of the horses churned up piles of
earth that fell to the ground immediately and left clouds of dust to refract the
prism of stars, stone and moonlight as they made their way up the mountain.
The heartbeat of giants could be heard in the gallop of horses as their hooves
hit the earth in gradual succession. As they made their way to the fortress,
The reflection of steel caught the eye of a lookout on the wall of the parapet.
He ran to a spire and saw that men on horseback were approaching. Hastily,
he alerted another man, a squire, who was fetching water from a well.
"My lord, the knights approach" he yelled from the castle spire.
The man gathering the water let the bucket fall back into the depth of the well
and ran toward the lookout.
He climbed the wall near the spire and saw them approaching. "Sound the
horn" said the squire,
"When they arrive tell the sentry to open the gate." "Shall I tell the priest?"
asked the lookout. "No" said the squire, "He is well aware of their arrival."
The knights approached the fortress gate at full charge, as if expecting a broil
or confrontation with an unknown host. "Open the gates" yelled the lookout
to the sentries, who removed the board and cross pins and pulled open the gates.
The knights rode in quickly, and all the beasts and foul of the courtyard
scurried to exit their path. They rode up to the steps of the main castle, where
the squire stood. "Where is thy Master?'' asked the lead knight. "Hence my
lord, I shall lead you." replied the squire. The squire lead the knight to the
front of the chapel, where the knight dismounted. Taking up a torch, the
squire lead the knight in silence through the building that had stood for
hundreds of years. Grasping his helmet in his left hand, the knight followed
the squire through halls and empty chambers until they came to a room which
the squire would not enter. "Through there" said the squire, "Beyond the next
door." The knight walked into the large empty room with many stained glass
windows. There was an bizarre presence that he had never felt. It was cold
and distressing. The windows did not depict the usual scenes of resurrection or crucifixion.
They were comprised of scenes taken seemingly from a hidden apocrypha.
Most of them unfamiliar to the knight, who had studied and researched the
causes of his quests. As with most of the warrior monks, he had no family in
his direct line, and shared blood with dynasties that were anonymous for their
There was a large unmarked door on the other side of the room. The knight
pushed open the door without announcing his presence. The room was
smaller but just as well lit. At the far end of the room there was an altar, and a
priest kneeled before it. There were scrolls and medallions strewn about the
floor. Above the steps of the altar there hung battle fags with markings
familiar to the knight, but the walls were adorned with artifacts of a strange
and disturbing nature. Without speaking he approached the priest, kneeled on
the floor and picked up a medallion. The crest bore the markings of a knight
that was known to him, as they had been on crusades together.
As he gazed at the medallion, the priest spoke to him.
"You are of the knight's Templar?" "I am." said the knight.
"Are you weary from your journey?" "No." the knight replied.
"You do not feel the need to be reverent, as I am a man of the cloth?"
"You are a Gnostic Cathar, and by definition you neither seek nor accept
reverence from any living being." said the knight. The priest rose to his feet
and turned toward the knight. "You are indeed wise sir knight, this shall serve
you well." The priest removed his hood and revealed his face to the knight,
noticing the medallion in the knights' hand. "Knew him, did you?" asked the
priest. "He was here, like many others. The boy brings me the medallions of
those who do not wish anyone to claim their bodies , should they fall."
"Who are you?" asked the knight. "My name is Gregory. I was ordained as
priest by the rose croix." he said. "And you are Raguel, from the knights of
Zion." "How do you know me?" asked the knight. "Those that speak to you
speak also to me" said the priest. The knight looks down at the medallion.
"Why have voices summoned me here?" he asked. "Your master is slain, is
"My master, and my masters master." replied the knight. "And you seek the
cause of their death?" asked the priest. "I know the cause, that which is
murder!" "Know you not the reason why?" "It matters not, dead they shall
remain. Lest the knowing of such be to my favor." "Know you that it does."
said the priest. "Speak then to me, and I will hold you words in judgment."
The knight tosses the medallion to the floor along with his helmet and stares
at the priest who walks past the knight and opens the door. "Is it knowledge
that you seek, or the greater glory of those that have come before you?"
The knight stares at the priest. "Neither, strange one, simply the riddle of my
own fate, which you shall parlay to me, or incur my wrath." Then follow me,
as I followed my master, and all shall be revealed." said the priest. The knight
stood in caution of the priests words. "Come sir knight, I shall lead you." said
They walked into a large room where the priest took up a torch. They then
disappeared into the darkness of the castle.
They walked through dark corridors and down winding spires.
After a while, they came to a sunken room in the lowest level of the castle
that reeked with the smell of death. Without hesitation, the priest stepped
down into the room, which was flooded to the knees. "See with your own
eyes the horror of conquest." He said. As the air became saturated with the
vile stench of death, the knight followed closely and entered the large room
which was infested with rats, weevils and maggots feeding on the decayed
flesh of corpses. Other creatures crawled between the bones and rusted armor
as the festering brine preserved their feast of mortal remains.
"To what men did these cadavers belong?" asked the knight.
"Those that sought to destroy that which you have sworn to protect,
and those you knew well, yet not well enough." Answered the priest. "You
are ambiguous friar, even for a Cathar."
"Ambiguity is the key to our survival" said the priest. "So it seems."
said the knight, as he kicks a corpse from his path.
The torch begins to flicker and sparingly illuminates the room filled with
death and despair. On the far side of the room there is an opening in the wall,
as to a cave. It was so dark that the swaying light from the torch did not show
any depth to the cave at all. It seemed almost two dimensional. At the very
top of the cave there appeared a Latin inscription. IN ARCADIA EGO. The
knight took the torch from the priest and held it to the orifice. "Light does not
penetrate the cave?" the knight asked. "It is a reflection of mankind." the
"What lies beyond the darkness?" asked the knight. The priest points to the
inscription over the opening. AND IN ARCADIA I.... "It means nothing."
said the knight. "It means everything." said the priest.
"I grow weary of your riddles Cathar." The knight said angrily, as he turned
to the priest. "Read it backward." said the priest.
The knight stares at the inscription for a few seconds.
"HE IS THERE..DEAD," he looks at the priest, "A sepulcher?"
"Yes." the priest answered. The knight hesitates. "For whom?"
He stares at the priest intensely. "Thou knowest." said the priest.
The knight throws the flickering torch into the corner at a rotting corpse,
igniting it and creating an ominous back light.
He draws his sword and holds it to the priest. The knight approaches the
priest with sword drawn and eyes fixed.
"No more to this futile game will I submit! You will tell me now who lies in
the tomb, or the end of your life shall you meet!"
"I cannot tell you what lies in the darkness, even if it means my life."
said the priest, unfazed by the knights' aggression.
"You must find the answer yourself, in the eyes of God. At such time, all will
be revealed and you shall be set free for all eternity."
The knight drops his sword and gazes at the mire the floor has become, now
sparkling with reflection of the burning cadaver.
"Why does this burden fall upon me, why have I been chosen?"
asked the knight. "I have waited for you since the last crusade" said the
priest. "Those parchments in my quarters concern you, your life and your
destiny. It was no accident that you survived the purge and the inquisition.
You are the strongest of heart, and the purest of mind. You are the one. Go ye
now into the darkness, alone and unarmed to find that which is lost." The
knight turns toward the cave and drops his sword. He closes his eyes and
slowly begins to take off his armor throwing it to the floor. "If I do not
return, tell my men to ride forth to Barcelona, to meet with our brethren."
said the knight. "You have been chosen, if you do not return we shall all die hereafter,
so it matters not. The fate of your brothers lies within you." The knight hesitates
and begins to perspire. "I've never been this afraid, Gregory." "You have
never been this close to God, brave sir knight." "Will I see you when I return,
that we may speak of this truth?" "No." said the priest. "You will become me,
and I will become one with man." "What does the secret lead us to believe,
are you an angel of God?" asked the knight.
"I am a reflection of your future self,
and that which battles the bearer of light, for I am the bearer of
consciousness." said the priest. "Now go, and look back no more." The
knight, without armor or weaponry, disappears into the darkness of the cave.
Suddenly a light emanates from the center of the room. At once the bodies
begin to disappear and the dungeon is transformed into a peaceful sanctuary.
The knight, unaware of this moves forward in total darkness, at least what he
believes to be forward. Each step is more uncertain than the last. He looses
all sense of direction, which would have been useless in the dark moreover.
After a while he no longer has a concept of time. Who knew how far he had
walked or how long it had taken. Completely bewildered he does not panic,
or cry out in confusion, but continued to move.
The further he goes the more the ground becomes shaky and unsound. He
cannot tell weather he is loosing the use of his legs or the ground will simply
no longer support him. It is not a concern for his mind is beginning to rest,
and tranquilize the rest of his body.
Soon he looses all sense of balance in the void of light and sound.
He falls forward, yet does not touch the ground. He begins to turn and drift
seemingly in mid air. His mind is slowly erased of all things as his thoughts of
doubt and fear are vanquished, and driven from his sub conscious. Faintly he
hears a sound, similar to a heartbeat. It gradually begins to increase.
Suddenly he is confronted with visions of his past.
They can not be placed into context, or fully understood, for space and time
were no longer of consequence. Feelings were mangled with intangible
revelations, each more alarming and confusing than the next. Yet they
required no thought, no emotion, no disdain. Simply the testament of his soul
upon the altar of the unknown.
As the last vision ended, light began to radiate all around him.
A small luminous object appeared beneath him. It began to radiate more
brightly and illuminate the void. The droning sound of a heartbeat stopped.
The calm feeling of drifting that had been preceded by the feeling of walking
through water was soothing, but never this peaceful or serene. Having no
sense of area or dimension, he begins to feel a strange gravitational pull from
the shining object.
After a sense of sinking slowly, he finds himself to be upright on solid ground
before it. The object still appears to have no definite shape or size, and is
shining so brightly, he can scarcely look upon it, but he cannot look away.
He tries to approach the object but has no control over his own body. As he
regains the ability to reason,
a voice comes from all directions.
YOU ARE THE WARRIOR MONK. Yes, my lord. YOU ARE STRONGER
THAN MOST AS THEY HAVE BEEN SLAIN BY THEIR PAST I did see
them my Lord. YOU HAVE COME FOR WHAT MEN CALL THE GRAIL
I do not know, my lord. SEARCH YOUR HEART, ASK AND I SHALL
Was it the voice of God that summoned me? THE VOICE OF REASON
LED YOU HERE SO THAT YOU MAY HEAR GOD AND
UNDERSTAND THE TRUTH I have destroyed men for the sake of reason
and believed it to be God's will GOD'S WILL DOES NOT MANIFEST
WITHIN THE HEART OF MAN BUT IN THE SPIRIT OF ALL THOSE
WHO SEEK HIS GUIDANCE Who is here dead, my lord? IT IS YOU SIR
KNIGHT What then, is the secret of the grail? I AM ONE WITH
MANKIND FROM THE BEGINNING TO THE END OF EVERY
BREATH AND EVERY MOTION AND EVERY THOUGHT AS YOU
WILL CALL UPON ME SO SHALL I CALL UPON YOU Who do I serve?
THAT WHICH YOU KNOW TO BE TRUTH IN EVERY FIBER OF
YOUR BEING Are you my lord? THOU SAYEST, AND I AM WITH YOU
The light becomes intense and blinding. Suddenly the knight finds himself out
of the cave and in the chamber of the priest, on his knees before the altar. His
sight is impaired and his balance not yet restored. He tries to stand, but
collapses onto the floor. He crawls to the window and opens the shutter.
Daylight penetrates the room for the first time in ages. The wind blows dust
across the floor. The knight formerly known as Raguel stares out into the
bright sunlight, struggling to speak. His throat is completely dry and no words
emanate. He turns to see what looks like a chalice on the altar. As he squints
and shakes his head, he stumbles toward it. Throwing himself against the
altar, he grabs the vessel and drinks the substance it contains. He is instantly
revived. "A fresh anointing" he says quietly to himself. He walks back to the
window and takes a deep breath. "Squire!" he cried "Summon my knights,
send them hither!" "Squire!" He panted and grinned in anticipation. "I live
yet." he said, in the midst of laughter. "And born once more, into the
The squire, fetching water from the well stares at the window in amazement.
Throwing the bucket to the ground he runs out into the courtyard and gazes
up at the tower. "Ring the bell, my master lives" said the squire walking
toward the chapel. As a crowd gathers in the courtyard, the squire burst into
the room aghast at the sight of the knight long since thought dead. "Sire, thou
livest yet." said the squire. "Great gladness, and praise be to God!" The squire
kneeled before he who was known as the brave knight Raguel.
"Rise sir." said the knight "Stand and be recognized." The squire stands
before the knight and they embrace. "My men are here? asked the knight.
"Yes sire, in the courtyard" he replied. "And your master?" asked the knight.
The squire points to a tomb in the courtyard. The knight walks down to the
courtyard as the church bells ring out. He approaches the tomb of the former
priest with respect and humility. He lays his hands upon the tomb and kneels
"Oh that you should live to see my face, and the look in my eye. I have found
that which was lost, and it has given me life everlasting. The knights men
approach and surround him in astonishment. "Sire." said one of the men,
"You are alive!" "More than you know." said the knight. He stands and they
all embrace. He looks around at the faces of the men defending the fortress.
"Where is the boy that lead us across the water?" asked he. A young man
stepped forward. "Come here." said the knight. The youth stepped forward.
"Kneel." said the knight. He looked at one of his men who was also his
cousin. "Andre, give me your sword." "Sire?" the man asked "Your sword."
he said once more. Andre gave up his sword to his master. The knight whose
name he had never revealed, turned to the young man touched his shoulders
with the blade and spoke the words,
"In the name of God, St. Mark and St. John, I give you the right to bear arms
against those who attempt to destroy the evidence of truth. What is your
name?" he asked. "Conexio sir." "Rise Sir Conexio." The knight saw his medallion around
Conexio's neck. "This one belongs to you always." he says to the young man
smiling. "My armor and sword are yours." "Yes sir" replied Conexio.
"Squire!" said Raguel. The squire comes forward. "I am henceforth a part of
this village, and you are commander of this outpost." "My lord I am not
ready." replied the squire. "Neither was I, ready for the anointing and yet it came".
It is your task now, to defend this place for my quest has ended. Raguel turns
to the rest of the men. "Come into the chapel and I shall reveal the truth".
All of the quest knights and young Conexio follow the priest knight into the
temple. Hours later at twilight they emerge, sullen but confident. They hold
torches out and stand in a circle surrounding Raguel. "You will ride
forth, and take Conexio with you". Someday you will be called upon
to find that which mankind has lost, answer that call, and you shall be
forever born into the kingdom of God." As the others walk away, his cousin
Andre stepped forward and clutched his shoulder. "You found the grail?" he
asked. "Yes." he replied. "Is it all that we embrace?" asked Andre. "It is
everything." said he. "Who do we serve?" asked Andre. "That which calls
you to seek the truth, search not your hearts but give to him your spirit. Ride
forth to different kingdoms, and establish your place there." said Raguel.
"And what of you, my lord?" "I will remain here until the time
of redemption." "And what of the elders, and protocols of Zion?" asked
another knight. "Leave them," he said, "to the Roman demagogues,
so they may feel the wrath of the inquisitors steel.
We have earned our rite of passage through
survival and the foundation of truth." Andre looks upon him with concern,
"They are powerful my lord, the root of many empires". "Fear not, for you
will speak in anonymity of these things that I impart, conceal your true self
and that of your blood, for truth is your ally. And it is a great monument to
that which your line shall create and preserve." The knight climbs the stairs
of the chapel. "To your destiny now shall you ride! For you only stay only
upon your leisure. He raises his arms and closes his eyes as all the men
kneel before him. "May the lord bless you, and keep you strong, for he is
with you always." All of the men except the guards of the fortress depart. As
they leave they feel a sense of urgency combined with a feeling of peace.
After they crossed the hidden bridge at the bottom of the hill, Conexio
stopped. He rode back and tossed his torch into the dry wooden bridge. He
made the sign of the cross and rode away. The men from the fortress saw the
flames and began to pray, for they knew that they could never leave. Raguel
walked through the silent court yard. He walked over to his standard hanging
on a pole near the gate. He takes it down and lays it on the tomb of the priest.
Later in the masters chamber the squire and Raguel speak. "Did
you see the dungeon?" asked Raguel. "Yes sire. nothing was there. No
bodies, no cave, nothing you described. But there was a feeling of peace, that
I had never felt here before. "How so?" he asked. "Those that brought the secret to this place, were not
those that seek to rule and conquer but they sought a higher understanding,
and the purity of mankind. I saw them when they fled into the night, leaving
their secrets to the priest. And thereafter the knights came, from every corner
of Christendom. Always beaten and torn from working their way to this
place. Many thought they were seeking the grail. Some thought it to be the
treasure of Solomon, or the cross of crucifixion. It did not matter. For they
never returned. Conexio helped only you, he knew you were the one, and you
were right to send him away."
"Was it all a product of my mind? The chalice, the light?"
"Was it a vision that drew me here so that I may understand the truth?" "My
lord, you were gone for two years. There were terrible storms and plagues
upon the land. The priest Father Gregory passed away after you disappeared.
He was found in the dungeon next to you armor and sword. On the wall
behind him the was an inscription that we did not understand. We buried him
and built his tomb in memorial. We believed that you were dead, disappeared
like the other knights, but your men would not leave.
They had nowhere to go."
Raguel stood and walked to the balcony. "I was dead, squire."
As wind sweeps through the courtyard, the noble knight, from the order of the
knights Templar, now keeper of the grail for the Cathars drapes his sash around his neck and says,
"It is done."
Gradually the pestilence was lifted and crops began to grow in abundance.
Life was slowly restored to the region.
It appeared that the time of darkness had ended.
And so it remained, for five years. Andre, Conexio and the other knights of
Raguel had established their place in many nations. They were absorbed by
fraternal orders and fought bravely at the battles of Palestine, Bannockburn
Now came the time of Langudoc.
At sunrise on the seventh anniversary of the quest knights arrival, all hell
would again break loose. The very ground began to tremble once more as
men on horseback invaded the rural serenity.
An army of the King on the orders of the Vatican sought to find and destroy
the fortress and all those that dwelt therein. They were a sizable force, bent
on death and destruction. They were seen by a sentry on the wall, who fell
back in astonishment. "Ring the bell! Awake, and all to arms! To arms!" he
cried. Two guards and a sentry rushed into the chambers of the Squire. "My
lord the enemy approach." said the guard. "Prepare for a siege" said the
squire. "Where is the priest?" asked the sentry. "Gone from his chamber, and
hitherto seemed to vanish." a guard replied "What do you mean?" "Sir he has
not been seen." The squire interrupts. "Reinforce the front gate, and send the
archers to the towers, do as I say!" "Yes my lord." The soldiers depart.
The first of the invaders reached the foot of the mountain. Their master, in a
grand and imposing fashion commanded the field. "We have the hill
surrounded Sire, there is no escape." "Very well," the commander replied.
"Fire at will!" The catapults launched flaming stones that had been soaked in
oil. They struck the walls of the fortress and bore out chunks of wood and
brick. Those that landed inside the walls set all that they contacted ablaze.
The defenders of the outpost responded with fiery arrows and stones hurled
down the hillside, most of which started an avalanche of cascading earth.
Convinced that the besieged were outmatched, the Captain of the army
ordered his men up the mountain. Those that tried to cross the waters
surrounding the hill instantly went down in anguish, screaming as if being
devoured. Upon this sight their commander ordered trees to be felled to
create bridges to cross the mire of death. At this time soldiers on the other
side of the hill were cutting their way through the dense forest. As they rested
in the late afternoon they saw an apparently unarmed man coming down the
hill. The soldiers lay at the base of the slope, in ambush. As the man
appeared, the soldiers surrounded him and drew their weapons.
"On your knees, Cathar!"
one man shouted. The shrouded man stood before them motionless as soldiers
approached with swords drawn. "Do as I command!" The man did not react.
"Execute him!" said their leader. As a soldier walked up to him, reared back
his arm and prepared to strike, the silent man removed his hood and stared at
the soldier, who froze instantly. The soldier dropped his sword, and fell to his
knees. As the cloaked man revealed himself to the rest of the soldiers, they
fell likewise as if blinded or scorched. The mysterious man mounted one of
the soldier's horses and departed.
The remainder of the army began their assault upon the mountain fortress.
The archers on the high walls held them at bay until they succumbed to the
constant barrage of stones by the invaders. The enemy force reached the gates
and battered them down. As they entered the compound those that remained
alive fell upon their own swords to avoid the inevitable torture.
The most severe purge of all had come, seven years after the knights arrival.
An army on orders of the Pope and the tyrannical King Philippe IV had lain
siege to the outpost. The rode into the village and began to tear it apart. They
found the squire sitting alone in his chamber and dragged him into the
courtyard. As they prepared to burn him as a heretic and infidel, the
Commander of the kings army ordered the tomb in the courtyard to be
opened, so that it may provide a clue to the treasure that the Cathars were
thought to posses. As soldiers pried open the tomb, wind swept through the
courtyard. The squire looked at the enemy Commander, stretched out his
arms and said, "He liveth yet." Suddenly, the sky became black, the earth
began to quake, and flame erupted from the tomb. The very air was set afire
as man and beast burned slowly to death on the mountain top. The escaped
man on horseback turned to see the flames rising high into the air, and the
mountain village burning to cinders.
He was at the very place in which markings had led many to the castle. As he
rode through to countryside he could hear the prayers of the those that had
witnessed the supernatural event. He could not determine if the voices he
heard were of his own device, of divine nature or of those who prayed aloud,
for solace, and understanding.
As he rode fourth, all traces of the fortress on the hill were swept away. And
he never again looked back upon the mountain.
Six hundred years later on the anniversary of that siege, another castle was
under attack, in Northwestern Europe.
It was the last Belgian stronghold.
In 1914, the German war machine marched through Belgium laying waste to
everything in it's path, yet there was one fortress that refused to surrender.
The Belgian soldiers inside the fortress fired at the advancing Germans from
machine gun nests and bunkers made of earth and stone. At times the bodies
of dead Germans were piled so high, the Belgian guns could not fire over top
of them. They had to be pushed into ditches and thrown into moats. Though
they suffered heavy casualties, the Germans continued the assault. The
Belgians were cut off from the rest of their army. Their supplies and
ammunition were low, and they were starving to death.
Though they had the opportunity to surrender, they did not do so. For they
would have been shot on their knees, with their hands in the air. And giving
up the castle would have opened the way for the German advance, severing
the British and French lines. Though no oath was sworn, and no pledge taken,
they would defend the fortress to the last.
Starving and out gunned, they waited to be overrun.
It was the last day of the siege.
In the officers quarters, a Colonel called for two of his lieutenants.
"You have fought bravely." he said. "Now you must listen carefully."
He closed the door and spoke to them for several hours.
When they emerged, they had a determined look about them.
They were given a map, a compass and provisions.
"You must get through," said the Colonel, grasping their shoulders. "and
remember what I have told you here today."
They saluted the colonel, and departed. A burst of gunfire woke the Germans
outside, the ones closest to the wall were awoken by the angel of death. The
two Belgian Lieutenants lept from a bunker and broke through the line. The
Germans that pursued them were cut down by machine gun fire. After a brief
silence, hell broke loose once more. The Germans began to fire their 75mm.
guns. The impact of each 150lb. shell seemed to kill fifteen to twenty men at
a time. Those that were not killed by the bombing went slowly insane.
Men huddled in the lower levels of the castle against walls and underneath
stairwells. Now, out of ammunition completely, they prepared for hand to
hand combat. But that moment never arrived.
The shelling continued day and night. Just as many soldiers died from flying
bricks and collapsing walls as from bullets and shrapnel.
A huge hole opened up in the outside wall, and the Germans came pouring in.
All of the survivors were starved and delirious, some were completely mad.
Most were executed on the spot.
The Germans broke through to the officers chamber they found the Colonel
sitting on his desk, unarmed. They yelled at him in German to put his hands
up and turn around, but he just stared at them.
They yelled at him once again, that they would open fire if he refused.
The Colonel stood in silence. He faced the men and stared at them until they
lowered their weapons. He then walked out of the room, and through the
castle, staring every German soldier in the eye as he passed. They all fell
silent and watched him walk through the carnage. When he reached the outer
wall of the castle, the German ranks parted as he walked through them. Soon
he came face to face with the commanding German officer. The confused
officer drew his pistol with a trembling hand, but slowly dropped it to his
side. He covered his face and slowly began to weep. The Belgian colonel,
without looking back, disappeared into the Forest. Inside the castle at the
officers quarters lying on the desk, the German soldiers found
a piece of paper with an inscription:
IS ADHUC SPIRARE
"He liveth yet."
All of the literary
work posted on
this site is
property of Skip
use will be
Screenplays - He Is There Dead