some place on it with that name.”
“The Earth is round?” said Jonas, shocked, opening his eyes very wide. “What nonsense! Everyone knows that the Earth is flat and is held up by two columns in the east and in the west, and that if we wanted to go further than the edges, we would fall into an infinite abyss.”
“For the time being, and until you have studied sufficient mathematics and astronomy, I will let you continue to believe that nonsense.”
“It’s the truth, as told by the Church!”
“Magnificent! I already told you that I’m not going to argue about it right now. I’m much more interested in resolving the enigma hidden in the words Al-Yedom. If our pair of Templars want their tracks to be followed with such ease, as is the case of the first name, the solution to the second must also be within our reach and we just have to retrace the path they took to choose their Arab names. The first one means something like ‘Punishment of the Templars’, and the second begins ‘Victory of’ … of whom? Of a person, of another place, of a symbol? Al-Yedom, Al-Yedom,” I repeated tirelessly, looking for a clue in the sound. “It can’t be that difficult, they wanted someone to discover it. Let’s begin by assuming that it is ‘Victory of’ somebody, in this case the somebody would be Al-Yedom ….” I stopped in my tracks, dazzled by the brilliance. “Of course! Good God, it was right under our noses! It was so easy that even they must have been laughing when they thought it up!”
“Well I don’t get it.”
“Think, Jonas. What is the first rule when it comes to hiding a message?”
“I don’t know, although I would love to find out.”
“Play with the order of the letters, Jonas! Simply play with the order of the letters and the words! Years ago, for reasons that are now irrelevant, I had to read some treatises on the use of secret alphabets and encrypted languages, and they all recommended to use the simplest system: play on words, puns, assonances, anagrams and hieroglyphics. As a rule the intruder will always be on the lookout for a complex and impossible code and will overlook the most simple and evident things.”
“Do you mean to say that the letters of Al-Yedom are also the letters of another word?” inquired Jonas, yawning and falling back slowly onto his cloak. Despite his appearance, he was just an overly-tired boy.
“Think, Jonas, think! It’s so easy!”
“I can’t think, sire, I’m falling asleep.”
“Molay, Jacques de Molay, the Grand Master! It was the ‘Y’ in Yedom that caught my eye, do you understand? Changing around the letters they made Al-Yedom from De Molay. ‘Victory of Molay’. What do think, huh? Ingenious. ‘Punishment of Al-Aqsa’, i.e., ‘Punishment of the Templars’ and ‘Victory of Molay’. Dear boy, I think we are going to ….”
But Jonas was fast asleep next to the heat of the fire, with his face leaning on his arm.
We rested for the night in Vienne and from there went onto Lyon, going up through La Chaise Dieu, Nevers, Orleans and finally Paris. It was a long journey lasting ten days, during which I taught Jonas my meager knowledge of the French language, which I tried to expand on every occasion I came across, speaking to different people until I felt reasonably sure of my expressions. I have never understood those people who say that they are incapable of learning a language. Words are tools, such as those of a blacksmith or mason, and don’t hold any more secrets than any other art. The lessons, which improved on a daily basis for both the teacher and the student, also allowed me to address for Jonas the first and rudimentary knowledge of subjects like philosophy, logic, mathematics, astronomy, astrology, alchemy and cabala. Jonas soaked up each and every one of my words and was able to repeat what I had told him point for point. He had a prodigious memory but not just prodigious for his ability to retain but also for his