Read The Lafayette Sword Online

Authors: Eric Giacometti

Tags: #Freemasons;Freemason secrets;Freemasonry;Gold;Nicolas Flamel;thriller;secret societies;Paris;New York;Statue of Liberty;esoteric thriller;secret;secret knowledge;enlightenment;Eiffel tower

The Lafayette Sword

Praise for The Antoine Marcas Series

“A phenomenal thriller series... Vivid characters, evocative international settings, and a history darker than midnight. I highly recommend!”

—Douglas Preston, No. 1 bestselling coauthor of the famed Pendergast series of novels

“A superbly esoteric blend of history and adventure.”

—Glenn Cooper, bestselling thriller writer

“History, adventure, and thrills.”

—L'Express

“Brilliantly plotted and well researched.”

—Le Parisien

“A captivating plot that weaves alchemy and the Middle Ages into a modern-day thriller.”

—Zonelivre

“Masterfully written.”

—20 Minutes

“A vivid story.”

—Metro

“Giacometti and Ravenne's series kickoff has abundant visceral appeal.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“European bestsellers Giacometti and Ravenne make their U.S. debut with this intrigue-filled thriller.”

—Publishers Weekly

Discover exclusive content from best-selling authors Eric Giacometti and Jacques Ravenne, who share their research and inside knowledge about Freemasons, secret societies, and history.

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Copyright information

All rights reserved: no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher.

First published in France as
Frère de sang

by Eric Giacometti and Jacques Ravenne

©2007, Editons Fleuve Noir, department d'Univers Poche

English translation ©2016 Anne Trager

First published in English in 2016

By Le French Book, Inc., New York

www.lefrenchbook.com

Translation editor: Amy Richards

Cover designer: Jeroen ten Berge

Book design by Le French Book

ISBNs:

Trade paperback: 9781943998043

E-book: 9781943998036

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The main characters are all imaginary. The authors did find inspiration in historical and Masonic documents and real science. The descriptions of the Masonic ceremonies are relatively accurate, but the novel does not represent the official beliefs of the Masonic jurisdictions mentioned.

Prologue

A
thick layer of fog shrouded the capital. It wasn't bad enough to keep people inside, but it was still vaguely unsettling. Teens on scooters, who usually slalomed with ease along the narrow streets, took their time, unsure of what lay ahead. The few high points of the city, including the dome of Sacré Coeur, had vanished altogether. Only the revolving light of the Eiffel Tower managed, more or less, to pierce the opaque sur
roundings.

Léo, an independent taxi driver in Paris for twenty years, dropped off his customer on the Avenue de La Bourdonnais. The damned pea soup was making it impossible to find another fare. Everyone was taking the metro. He parked his dark blue Mercedes on the Rue du Général Lambert and listened to the weather forecast. More precipitation. He grumbled and turned off the radio. Until today, the spring weather had been pleasant. Feeling sullen, Léo got out and stretched his legs. The damp cold hit him right away. He shivered, pulled up his collar, and headed toward the Eiffel Tower. The atmosphere, enchanting on any other night, was unreal an
d ghostly.

A second later, he heard a scream rise up from tourists gathered under the
Iron Lady.

“Damned tourists,” Léo muttered. “Always getting pick
pocketed.”

As he got closer he could see thirty or so Japanese sightseers in red plastic ponchos staring up at the tower. Next to them, two young women in black T-shirts and ripped jeans were pointing at something. No, the commotion wasn't about someone getting her pur
se nabbed.

Leo followed their fingers. Three meters above them, a dark figure was appearing and disappearing in the fog, like a string puppet, its head tied to a rope—a life-sized toy gracefully oscillating in the wh
ite cloud.

The tourists
applauded.

“Nothing serious,” Leo said to himself, ready to turn away. “Just another stree
t artist.”

But as the sway of the rope began to slow, the figure's face came into full view. The two young women were the first to realize the terrible error they had all made. They cried out
in shock.

Léo felt bile rising in h
is throat.

The puppet was a man, red in the face, tongue hanging out, a
rms slack.

The crowd stepped back in unison and let out a wave o
f shrieks.

Part I

If all the gold that has ever been mined in the world

were put into a single pile, it would fit in the space

beneath the Eiffel Tower.

—Peter L. Bernstein,
The Power of Gold, The History of an Obsession

1

Rue Lafayette, Paris

Present day

A
ntoine Marcas was sipping a sweet brandy on the terrace of Le Régent café. The night before, he had celebrated his forty-second birthday. It was nothing like the shock of forty—a mere step away from a half a century. In the two years following that disaster, the affronts of time had b
een minor.

Sure, life had sucked after the breakup with Jade. The idyllic love had turned to vinegar after a few months of living together. She was too independent, too loud, too different—and yes, even too beautiful. Too much for Marcas. The relationship had gotten stuck in mounds of pettiness, and they were both saved at the last minute by separation. She accepted a position at the French embassy in Washington, leaving him alone one night in his vast apartment on the Rue Muller
in Paris.

For a while, resentment and doubt ate away at him. His doctor, a Freemason brother, suggested some rest. Marcas thought he might try therapy. Would he have to choose a Freemason shrink? The question seemed both strange and meaningful. Only a brother could understand the personal development offered by regular temple attendance. If he had to explain the transformation of uncut stone into polished cubes to a profane, he'd never get better. Did Freemason-specific therapy even exist? He had considered asking his worshipful master. Then the ne
ed passed.

He examined himself in the mirror just inside the café. His hair was beginning to gray at the temples. His son, Pierre, had recommended the new style, which made him look younger and less serious. Or at least that's what Marcas told himself. There were a few wrinkles around his brown eyes, but his natural expression was always pleasant. His smile became more pronounced when he was feeling sure of himself. Those who didn't know him sometimes interpreted it a
s mockery.

Marcas straightened in his chair and checked his leather briefcase, making sure he had brought his master's apron. The Masonic meeting was scheduled to begin in a half hour at the Grand Orient Masonic Hall. He'd never have time to go home and come back. He grinned. He hadn't been forced to let out his belt by a single notch in the four years he'd been wearing the apron. He had maintained a steady seventy-seven kilos, the ideal weight for his size, according to his doctor. Not an easy task, considering the feasts that followed their meetings every second
Thursday.

The hubbub in the café rose as new customers arrived for happy hour. Marcas gestured to the waiter. He wanted to pay his tab. Just then, two thirtyish men in suits, their ties loosened, plopped down in chairs at the next table. The older one, who had carefully groomed blond hair, ordered
two beers.

“Did you hear
the news?”

The other one shook his head and grabbed a fistful o
f peanuts.

“ISIS is making something like eighty million euros a month on the oil wells it's seized, and now it's bragging that it can get its hands on nuclear weapons from Pakistan. We'll never be able to get the better of these guys. They'll be riding into Paris in the back of their pickups the same way the German troops came mar
ching in.”

Marcas leaned in a little closer. He loved café talk, especially when it was laced with paranoia. Yeah, ISIS was a threat. But France had seen worse—the Gestapo and the storm troopers, for example. And France had
prevailed.

The younger man, who had brown hair, nodded while giving the waitress a visual
once-over.

“TV news is full of crap,” he said. “It's all controlled by the establishment. If you want the truth, you've gotta go to the Internet and find the right sites. I'm following a great blog now that claims the Freemasons are behind a lot of the havoc we're se
eing now.”

“Come on. In with the terrorists? You've got to be kidding. I'm all for conspiracy theories, but that's too much. Look around Paris, and you can see all the good work they
've done.”

“Just go to the blog,” the blond-haired man said. “You'll understand. The newspapers and TV stations are full of liars. But they're all Freemasons anyway. What do yo
u expect?”

Marcas sighed. So many assholes and so little time. When would everyone just drop the Masonic conspiracy thing? It was one conspiracy after another—for centuries now. Every year, he and some brothers from his Freemason lodge would get together over dinner to discuss the latest and craziest conspiracy theories. The brother who told the most off-the-wall story would win twelve bottles of Haut Brion. Last year, his friend Jean-Marc had taken the prize with a story that claimed the Freemasons were descendants of extra-terrestrials that had abducted Jesus in a flyi
ng saucer.

The blond-haired man continued. “Listen, those guys control the European Union and our French elections. You have
no idea.”

Marcas couldn't take it any longer. “Excuse me,” he said, leaning over. “I couldn't help but overhear. And I have to say that I agree. The Antichrist is among us, and guess what. He's a F
reemason.”

Marcas smirked and stood up. The two men glared as he tossed a bill on the table, gathered his things, and wa
lked away.

If only they knew that his oddly shaped briefcase held a ceremon
ial sword.

Marcas looked at his watch. It was nearly eight. The meeting would begin in exactly twenty minutes. He hurried up the Rue Lafayette and turned right on the
Rue Cadet.

Delicious aromas wafted from the
rôtisserie
on the left, and the Detrad Bookstore next to the lodge headquarters was still open. He had just enough time to take a look. Three customers—brothers, he assumed—were leafing through books in the central aisle. He nodded to the affable-looking man and the smiling blonde behind the counter and glanced at the new releases. The huge number of books about Freemasonry published every year always impressed him. One would think that everything had been written already, but no, there were always
new books.

And there it was. The book he was looking for:
La Chevalerie Maçonnique
by the French historian Pierre Mollier. His brothers had spoken highly of it. He picked it up and headed to the back of the store, which had a showcase of Masonic objects, including aprons, canes, glasses, and plates. A rectangular box adorned with a mother-of-pearl eye in a triangle caught his attention. Another Masonic cigarette lighter for his collection. He had more than twenty of them now. His ex-wife, son, and friends teased him about this hobby of his. Even after he quit smoking, he always carried one. They reminded him of his childhood, when he spent much of his time in his father's woodworking shop on the Rue Sain
t Antoine.

The cashier rang up the sale and handed him his purchases in a plastic bag. They exchanged a few words about upcoming events at the lodge and said
good-bye.

Marcas hurried over to the lodge headquarters, a Spartan and somewhat unsightly building that hid a fascinating secret. Behind its modernistic metal and glass façade, elaborate and mysterious ceremonies were routinely orchestrated in any number of magnificent Masoni
c temples.

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