The Ark and the Friar

“I’ve always dreamed of going on a quest for treasure. I love to watch shows about finding great relics. The Curse of Oak Island has been my favourite this past seven years. As a new season starts I feel great revelations are at hand.”

I wrote this Story in answer to the following prompts:
Sadje’s What Do You See – picture above from Pixabay
Fandango’s One-Word Challenge – Lanai
Your Daily Word prompt – Bolster

The Ark and the Friar

The golden sun of late afternoon and the redbrick monolith of an ancient structure create the deepest of shadows.

Friar Allegro realised this as he left St Luke’s chapel of the Monasterio de San Gregorio. He began to whistle his favourite hymn as he strode along the ancient pathways between the monastic buildings.

Stepping beneath one of many arches, he continued towards the presbytery. His lips were parched from reading a sermon, they demanded he take tea before doing anything else.

A gentle breeze stirred around the buildings, it tugged like a child upon his cassock. Was it that which drew his attention to the shadows? The whistle died at his lips. He was sure something moved within the lanai. The arched veranda gave entry to the Friary living quarters. All seemed quiet and still now.

There’s nothing for it, whistling again he continued on his way.  Passing the old well, he focused on his footsteps reverberating about the old brick passageway. Nothing else made a sound here, not even the roosting pigeons in the tower could be heard. The four echoes to his every two were as plain as day.

Allegro was a man of God, he didn’t fear death. At his advanced age, it would bring relief to his arthritic knees and always aching back, anyhow. That didn’t mean, he would allow somebody to stab him in the back.

Coming to a complete stop, he pressed his palms together before him. “Pray tell, follower. Is there anything I can do for you?” His voice, old yet strong, tinged his Italian words with a sense of power.

A tense silence hung on the breeze.

“Come now, I saw you. Moreover, I am a man and not a horse. I take two steps and yet I heard four. Reveal yourself!” Allegro demanded without moving a muscle.

Footsteps announced a man walking behind him. “Very good, Friar. I would pray for your life if I were you,” he said in a soft yet sinister voice.

“Really? May I know the name of my reaper?”

“You may not. Now, move to the steps!”

Allegro felt a small blade press against his spine. “Tell me, how am I supposed to pray for your soul, without identification?”

“I need no prayers — Move!”

Allegro nodded and started walking. “Oh, but you do. I’ve been doing the Lord’s work for fifty years. In death for me heaven awaits. If you strike me down, the pearly gates will slam shut for you. Eternal damnation will be wreaked upon you. Unless I save you with my prayers.”

“Enough claptrap, Friar.” The man prodded him on. “Why would you pray for the man who would kill you, anyway?”

Allegro reached the steps. “I don’t know your reasoning for being here. Yet maybe there is still time for your salvation. That is worth praying for.”

“Much obliged, now get down there!”

“Very well.” Allegro descended into the shadows.

“Unlock the door, I know you possess the keys.” The man shoved him forward as they reached the dimly lit vestibule and a solid oak door.

“You seem well-informed.” Allegro withdrew a large bunch of keys on a silk string from his cassock. They were attached to the white rope sash at his waist. “It’s been a while since I’ve been in the library undercroft,” he said while searching for the right key.

“Stop dithering, damn you!”

Allegro paused to draw a cross in the air in front of him. “We’ll have a little less damnation, thank you very much.”

The man sighed and nodded toward the door.

Allegro smiled to himself. Coming upon the key he wanted, he inserted it into the door creating a solid click. Turning the handle, he pushed it open with an agonising creak. “After you.”

“Nice try, get in there!” The man shoved him inside.

“I must say you have the impeccable manners of a bullish pig,” Allegro complained having stumbled over the hem of his cassock on the way inside.

“Thank you for noticing,” the man engaged a torch of white LEDs. A harsh brightness of the undercroft.

Allegro produced a box of matches, he ignited torch sconces on the stone walls. He knew the room contained a few barrels and boxes, certainly nothing of value. The now flickering light only confirmed his knowledge.

“Much better,” the man extinguished his torch and began to study his surroundings.

Allegro perched on a crate, “Don’t suppose you’ll enlighten me on that which you seek?”

“The greatest biblical treasure of all time, of course.” The man approached the far wall behind a series of rounded columns and continued to search.

Allegro chuckled. “You don’t believe the Ark of the Covenant is here, do you?”

“I know it is!” the man stopped searching. “I found an old scroll in the Vatican archive. It detailed five arks, four decoys and one real one leaving Jerusalem at the start of the Crusades.”

“No great revelation there. We all know those arks were sent all over the world. Tibet, China, India, Europe. The one Ark still in existence, lies within the Church of the Covenant in Axum, Ethiopia.”

“You know your stuff. The real ark was one heading into Europe. It made a stop at the Vatican, but everybody knew it wasn’t safe there. The scroll details it being brought here and secreted within a secret chapel beneath the library. You will show me that chapel.”

“Gladly.” Allegro ducked into the dark recesses of the undercroft. He gripped the wall sconce and twisted it ninety degrees.

The wall beside him, cracked and swung open without a sound. Revealing a tiny arched entryway.

“At last!” said the man almost drooling with greed. Shoving past the friar, he ducked inside. “Blast! There’s nothing here!”

Allegro followed him into the hexagonal space. It was completely bare, except for four holes in the centre. “These holes bore the posts that supported the Ark while it resided here.”

“Argh! Damn legends!”

Allegro drew a cross before him. “Indeed, legends drive even the sanest men crazy.”

“Tell me what you know. Where did the Ark of the Covenant go?” The man aimed his knife at the friar’s neck. “Where is it.”

“The Monasterio de San Gregorio was compromised within a week of the Ark’s arrival. Between the Rosicrucian’s and the Templar’s, it continued on its journey. It was marked by the rose line, an invisible path marked across Europe. You can see it in Paris by following the plaques.”

“Yes, I saw the movie – go on!”

“Then you know, it travelled to and disappeared from records at the Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland. There are now only two places it could reside.”

“Those being?” the man prodded.

“In the first instance, it was secreted within hidden vaults beneath the chapel. Historians have proven some of those vaults are inaccessible due to a flaw deliberately constructed within the building. Should those vaults be entered, the chapel will collapse. The Ark of the Covenant along with a fortune of gold, gems and artefacts such as the Solomon Menorah and the Grail, may still reside there where they can never be reached.”

“I think not. What of the second location?”

Allegro took a breath, “Well, there are unproven documents which suggest the Templar’s undertook a great voyage from Scotland. If these are proven true, the Ark went west across the globe.”

“Where exactly?”

“Fifty feet beneath, and thirty paces west of a Templar coded stone located on an island of oak trees,” Allegro said cryptically.

“Did you get that from the Treasure Island book?”

“Robert Louis Stevenson, native used the legend in some way. The Templar voyage appears to have landed in Halifax Nova Scotia. A claim given bolster by templar crosses, writings and symbols found there. Now, for more than two hundred years people have been digging for a buried treasure on Oak Island. While there is conjecture that the treasure is of Portuguese or Spanish pirate origin. The original depositors were almost certainly the Knights Templar.”

“What a great story!” scoffed the man.

“Which I’m sorry to say, means you’re about four thousand miles away from your treasure.” Allegro ducked out of the hidden chapel. “Now, if you’ll excuse me. I really need a cup of tea.”

“You’ve been a great help. Sorry to have ruined your day.” The man followed and allowed Allegro to seal the chapel.

“No, harm done. Just come and ask like a normal person next —” Allegro felt the blade pierce his cassock. He twisted and fell with a cry of pain.

“God rest your soul, Friar,” said the man before jogging into the darkness.

Allegro rose to his feet and examined the hole in his cassock. His twisting motion saved him certain death. “Cretin! Now, I have to go and see a seamstress before having some tea!” he grumbled.

The End


Thanks for reading my friends.

There’s more in the Poetry CornerPoetry Nook, and the Short Story Collection

Have a great day!

24 thoughts on “The Ark and the Friar

Add yours

    1. Thank you.
      The two Nation Treasures were wonderful. I was nodding to Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code in the one. Where Robert Langdon followes the Rose Line in Paris to find Mary Magdalene.
      Glad you liked me tale. Thanks fior reading

      Liked by 1 person

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