The dreams only continued to plague me more so. I had tried everything. Fasting, prayer and even attempting in vain to drown them with unwatered wine, but the entrance to the tunnels remained vivid in my mind's eye.
I was the companion of a friend of the great Hugues de Payens. I gained his acquaintance a Christmas mass in Paris several years ago now. The choir was singing in chorus as his firm grip compressed my hand, candles flickered deep in his pupils and I could sense the greatness of the man. Word made it's way to us that Jerusalem had fallen in the great Year of our Lord, 1118, and de Payens hastened to gather a small friendly group to bring along with him. De Payens had invited my companion on the excursion and I was subsequently invited soon after.
The ancient Holy city was filled with wonders and great places and scenes I had only read of in the Good Book. The smoky smell of burned firewood and cattle prevailed. Our first night there we were put into a procession and marched in the great Temple Mount. A full moon was glinting off the golden domed roof making it appear mere silver. Inside, de Payens voice boomed with authority has we were all were given white tunics with large red crosses sewn into the chest. Then silence fell across the room before we made a solemn vow to never tell anyone of what we were doing here. Our voices chanted in holy rhythm.
That was six years ago, almost to the day. That night we learned what our mission was to be. We were going to search the tunnels below the Temple Mount for the Arch of the Covenant. Another hush controlled the room after that news was relinquished. What excitement! We were now soldiers of God Almighty.
After the vows, fellowship and wine that followed the dreams began earnestly. All I could see was the inky black entrance to were we would be working but there was a low rumble coming from the depth of the hole that worried me. It was almost a growl. Dreams are dreams however and to my godly knowledge do not have any impact on our day to day lives. I toiled on, along with everyone else.
The tunnels were pitch black. Once inside all the clamor of Jerusalem vanished. The only light waving and flickering off of our torches. The orange glow making our red crosses appear royal purple. Closer to the exit the tunnels were fairly clear but the deeper we made our way the older and dirtier things had gotten. Several cave ins had slowed our way but we worked long into the nights bringing bucket after bucket up and outside into the world.
Another thing I found odd at this time, was the deeper we gained entry and the closer we came to being directly beneath the Mount a strange pressure was pushing against us. It was not trying to force us out of the tunnels but it was crushing our very beings like deep ocean water. Nose bleeds became more and more frequent and at times I thought my eyes would pop out of their sockets.
One night, we had been deep under the ground and we were sure we were close to being directly underneath the Temple Mount. We had all been digging for hours when a commotion broke out up toward the front. Then exaltation. Hugues de Payens began to sob at the base of a bronze door he had just unearthed. Torches flickered wildly with the cheers of the men. The cheers were muffled and there was no echo once it was done. My friend, Monet, clapped my shoulder and his silver front incisor gleamed in the fire light has he smiled.
"We have done it, mon amie."
"Oui. Dieu est heureux."
Hugues, once regaining control of himself, stood and put both his hands on the door, like he was telling a carriage to halt. The Earth let out a groan and she trembled at his touch. Dust fell from the tops of the tunnel and several of the men did Hail Mary's. Hugues was shouting prayers. Other men were praying too but I was distracted. This whole scene was familiar. Then I placed it. It was the reoccurring dream I had been having. I wasn't seeing the entrance to the tunnel itself, I was seeing the entrance to the Arch of the Covenant.
Hugues shoved on the door but it would not budge. Then other men helped him and it screamed on it's hinges as it slowly rolled open. I could only stand and watch in terror. Once the doorway was wide open and the only thing staring back was jet black darkness, de Payens brought up a torch and the dancing orange flicker of flame waltz across the golden container with angels nesting on top. The shimmer of the flame light was intensely bright off of the Arch. We all stood speechless. Hugues approach the holy relic and brought his hand out to open the thing. A silent scream was coming up from my throat but I couldn't make a sound. Hugues flipped the lid to the ground and nothing happened. Hugues's eyes were covered in shadow as he peered into the ancient container. Before he could get light over the edge, the Earth around us let out another bellow. It was as if we had passed through it's maw and were now settling down in it's belly. Waiting to be absorbed.
The tunnel and room the Arch was in was silent until the moving planet had silenced. Then before anyone made a move, a heavenly light burst out from the Arch. Hundreds of white orbs circled around in the glowing light going up and up like riding a tornado. I could feel the warm wind that was coming out of the box. Hugues eyes were wide with amazement the moment before the pressure finally caused them both to burst inside his sockets. De Payens let out a horrible scream before his tongue turned to liquid in his mouth. The men immediately behind him began to turn but it was too late. The back of their tunics burst into flames.
Monet had me by the shoulder and we were running up has fast as we could. The closer to the opening we made it the lighter the pressure felt. One glance behind me and I could see the white light seeping it's way up the tunnels behind us. Monet had tripped in the dark and I stumbled over him in a lump. I was up and running before I even thought again about Monet.
When I made the opening and dove into the outside world, I turned to no one behind me. Monet was gone. Then the light began to emerge deep in the darkness and I knew I had to close the opening as quickly as I could. I scrambled to my feet, sliding on loose gravel as I did. I was pushing on the enormous door with all I had. The ground at my feet was brightening. Then before the door had been shut the weight of the light his the other side and sent me sprawling. I was dazed and something tickled my brain. I looked up and watched the light and the orbs inside it swirl up into the night sky.
The next morning, I was found outside still lying on the ground. A French officer ran up to me, "Monsieur, allez-vons bien?"
"I'm okay, I believe. I could use some water." I didn't have the heart to tell him just yet of the night before. I didn't really know how to tell anyone.
He was just staring at me with a quizzical look on his face.
"What is the matter?"
"Je ne comprends pas." He stood up and tilted his head like a curious dog.
I was beginning to realize he didn't understand me at all. "Water." I said and realized it sounded very strange. "Water." I said again and it wasn't the right word. I can think of the word in my head, L'eau, but every time I went to say it, it came out, "Water." Whatever the devil that was. Whatever happened to me last night it has changed my language.
Months have passed and I'm here in the Bastille in France. Nothing but time on my hands. I couldn't answer any of the questions pertaining to the night before. I can understand everyone but no one can understand me. Everyone seems to think I'm speaking some form of English but none of which anyone today can speak.
I've had plenty of time to think about the events of that night and what I saw. I firmly believe now that there was never an Arch of the Covenant. I think the box we unearthed was Pandora's box itself. The very one. If it was the evil is out now. Nothing I can do about it. Even if I could no one can understand what I saying or writing. This is all gibberish to everyone who sees this but I. So, if anyone ever uncovers my tale and can possibly decipher this text, you'll know what has come of your world.
Now, my time has come and they're beckoning for me at the door. Off to be broken on the wheel. Another wretched soul lost. I already know where I'll be heading afterwards. We can only learn so much and live.
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