Kazuki reads over Breznev’s note. It’s disjointed, in several colors, in pen and pencil and marker. Scattered and fragmented, but all in the same hand. In the same mind. How to piece this together? Breznev looked for clues, symbols he thought were secret gateways to meetings arcane and profound. He left clues of his own when he needed to. “You can’t find the Tree, but you can find Keter,” Breznev would tell him.
Kazuki called Sylvie, Breznev’s wife. It was long overdue, but unnecessary. Sylvie was always the strong one, “My anchor to this plane of existance,” Breznev would say about her. He arranged a plane trip to Moscow the next day, and left to pick up some Sumatran tea and teak wood carved Javanese masks. They liked the masks.
. . .
“We don’t wear masks to hide, we wear them to disguise. You say that they’re the same thing, but your saying that is Profane, as the one who can’t find what they look for because of it. No, no, I’m not making fun of you Kazuki. I’ll get to that, but let me finish. You see something hidden and something disguised, and you think ‘something kept from me’. That’s Profane. We disguise the truth to keep it from those who do not have eyes to see it. That was a contribution from Sufism that the Rosicrucians learned: this which is why they coded their ciphers on their search for the Mahatmas, couldn’t let the Secret Chiefs learn of their discoveries: Eyes to See, Ears to Hear. It’s the difference between being in a crowd and listening to a hundred conversations, and being in a crowd and being able to hear each conversation. Ears to Hear. Do you understand?”
Kazuki nods, if only to keep Breznev from going off on a tangent. This was when he was young and impatient. “Fuck that shit, I got ears. I’m fucking profane now!”
Breznev laughs, one of those great Russian laughs that drowns out everything but mirth. “Yes, you are Profane. And drunk. You understand what I mean? Secular. Someone who doesn’t See. La Très Sainte Trinosophie says it right: we enshrine our secrets in code and riddles to disguise them from the masses. They’re not kept simply to keep us in the dark: the Secret Chiefs are those enlightened enough to see The Tree, and that has no power when it becomes commonplace.”
“Guns in Avalon?” Kazuki asks.
. . .
“Exactly,” Sylvie says, when Kazuki shows up. Puts the teas in a box in the cupboards. Mikael is in the living room, Kazuki hasn’t seen him yet, doesn’t know what to do. Mikael doesn’t shake his hand. “You understand when he left, he had been in his office for weeks. He didn’t just run out half-cocked, but you know his obsessions. You might be right, looking for the Ark, I know he looked in his Bible—”
Kazuki laughed. “Truth by Committee!” they both say at once. Breznev always called it that. What good is a map that’s one-third history and two-thirds fiction?
Sylvie grinned. “Here,” she hands him Breznev’s bible. Kazuki flips through it and nothing falls out of the pages. He sees an address, London, written inside the cover, and puts it in his backpack to look through later. There’s a sigil on the back cover.
. . .
“Thamiel? That’s one of the Qliphothic paths. A bunch of hermetic falsehoods invented by Crowley and Regardie back in the days when they revived the Order of the Golden Dawn, on their quest to disguise even the masks of truth. Hadn’t latched onto the Argenteum Astrum yet, that was their Malkuth—ha, their Gamaliel! Listen, I understand their ideas: you have other forces, and they sought to calculate them, it’s why the Golden Dawn was filled with mathematicians. It’s only human. But they didn’t seek to understand them, they simply took what existed and built on that. That’s why their contribution was simply a Qliphothic Tree. If they had understood the Zohar, they’d see the inherent duality of each Sephirah. There, that’s Thamiel right there: Duality. And in setting foot on Keter, you understand that their path is simply half of the Tree. You can’t walk half of a path, it either is or it isn’t.”
Kazuki showed him the gravestone. They were on the Isle des Juifs, in Paris. After being kicked out of the Pantheon for drunkenness (that was only fair), they split several tabs of LSD and Breznev wanted to find De Molay’s grave. Notre Dame stood glaring over their shoulders. “You found it! My god, look at it. Wait, this isn’t a grave: Jacques De Molay, Thamiel Resurgentes? THIS GRAVE IS BULLSHIT!”
“You want to know why the Templars were brought to an end by King Philip, why they had tortured them into confessing that they worshipped Baphomet? The Ilkhanate’s request in the Musée des Lettres et Manuscrits, the ones written in Templar blood! Oh Clement saw to that, said they were defilers of the cross, betrayers of Christ and that was that for the Templars, but they certainly did not put fucking Tattva on their graves! He died here, was burned at the stake, and asked to die facing the cathedral,” He points to Notre Dame, “but they couldn’t have buried him here. Must have taken him home, buried him at Kolossi. Let’s be sure.”
Kazuki and Breznev, strung out on vodka and LSD, were chased through Paris on a clear winter night by the flashing blue and red lights of archangels, who wanted to arrest them for gravedigging.
. . .
Kazuki stepped into Breznev’s library. Strange, he’d known the man for a long time, but had never really seen the inside of his home. It was exactly as he’d expected, as crazy and disjointed as Breznev’s thoughts. Books were stacked up dozens high, and pages torn seemingly at random from them. It would be a waste, Breznev had no special regard for books. He treated them as pads of paper and tore out pages to wipe his mouth while eating. Kazuki saw a copy of the Lemegeton perched on top of one of the stacks. He remembered it from Breznev’s long mushroom trips and pulled it off the pile. Flipping through the pages, he saw a scrawled note “Barrett – 20526 Grand River Ave – Detroit”. Closing the book, Kazuki slips it into his backpack. Airplane reading.
He looked in the Rolodex, Sylvie had gotten it for him years ago as a joke. Breznev was KGB, he would never write a number down in that and they both knew it. Kazuki flipped through it anyway, because he wasn’t looking for an answer. He was looking for signs. The Rolodex skips “G” entirely.
Kazuki looked at the books near Breznev’s desk, lifts up a heavily marked up copy of La Très Sainte Trinosophie, Breznev had obviously been spending time trying to decipher it. He sees a note written in the margins of several pages of Soldier of Fortune (obviously Sylvie didn’t know what Breznev was doing with her magazines, or he would have been disappeared long ago). It was a… poem? No, a liturgy.
“Six are their number, the lords high and mighty, rulers and devourers of men. On waves of war, plagues and pestilence shall they feast, growing stronger and darker. These are the names of the Enlightened, speak not of them except with reverance and rarity:”
- Baphomet, the axe of plagues
- Dagon, the sword of war
- Abraxas, the scythe of famine
- Azazel, the chains of winter
- Moloch, the rope of poverty
- Belial, the spear of kings
“And on the tongues of man, secrets…” [the next several lines of the note have been torn out]
“Few people laughed. Few people cried. Most were silent.”
_This ends the rite of initiation
Kazuki read through it, and saw the photo paperclipped to the page. It was his.
. . .
Kazuki was on Cyprus, doing some wetwork for one of the Mafia dons. It was a clean job, the spooky kind of clean, where everything goes so well you try to remember what you fucked up and it drives you crazy that you can’t think of anything. It was summer, and the Mediterranean breeze was warm and inviting. He wanted to find a bar and enjoy the night when he rounded one of the roads, and saw around the hill the lighted figure of Kolossi.
Half a bottle of Italian red wine into the night, he set out. Breznev was in a foul mood, broken leg and burns all up his back from a misfired incendiary grenade in Riyadh. He’d be out for months.
The castle was now a hotel, necessities of antiquity turned commercial. It’s a damn good thing Breznev wasn’t here. ‘Hey they have a bar,’ thought Kazuki. He swapped his half bottle for a new one, or maybe finished it and then got a new one. That must have been it, because when he woke up, there were two bottles at the grave.
Kazuki didn’t go to the graveyard, he was Walking The Tree. Laughed at the thought, and hoped he wasn’t going crazy like Breznev. Saw a sign, or maybe it was a shadow, and it was as good a night as any to be chasing shadows. He chased her along the walls, and underneath, through the wine cellars (how did they get in?) and out back. Dancing in and through the shadows under the nascent moon, along the thin retaining wall, arms stretched out for balance that wine had evicted earlier. A leafless branch scraped along the stone walls, her hollow rattling laughter echoing across the hillside, and he stepped into the shadow. The embrace was cold.
He woke with ‘Nahemah’ and a local phone number written on his hand in flowing script he didn’t recognize. The number was dead.
. . .
He recognized the photograph, but had forgotten about it. He’d taken it the next morning, when the sun was cresting the hillsides and casting long fingers of shadow through the olive trees. Their thin leaves covered in morning dew shone a thousand tiny suns, refractions of those ancient gods worshipped by cities long dead. A thousand baleful eyes, Adrammelech summoned from his throne and staring down from every leaf and branch. A wave of light, sun god or no, slowed down and bounding recklessly through the air. Witnessed angles of incidence and refraction curves making complex patterns of light, just so, as the intricate web of pure white light fades at the edges into thin pale rainbows and snaps true in a perfect summoning sigil against the marble sculpture.
It was the grave, hidden in a thicket. He’d woken next to it not hungover despite the two bottles of wine the night previous, and knew he would never find the path again. The picture he’d taken of the grave, the decrepit moss covered effigy, face inscribed with:
Jacques De Molay, 1238 – 1314
Order of the Knights Templar
. . .