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Authors: Adriana Koulias

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Historical, #Thrillers

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BOOK: The Sixth Key
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‘If the Führer is so interested in occult
matters why is he persecuting astrologers and gypsies?’

The old man raised one brow. ‘His reasoning is
beyond our comprehension because he is a giant and we are dwarfs. Now, before
you go, the Reichsführer would like you to take his genealogy to him at
Wewelsburg, the spiritual centre of our nation. Have you finished your own one,
by the way?’

Rahn shifted. ‘Not yet, I’ve been so busy . .
.’

‘Watch out, my boy.’ Weisthor lowered his
voice. ‘Every man must show that his blood is free from impurities – make
it a priority on your return from France or face the consequences. Now, your
train leaves tomorrow and afterwards you will travel to France directly from
Wewelsburg. I expect you to report in from time to time on how you are getting
on in the south.’ He looked at Rahn with paternal affection. ‘Be careful, son,
do your duty, and, Heil Hitler!’

Rahn left the office with his mind spinning.
His body was aching and his head hurt but in his heart there was a little leap
for joy. He was leaving Berlin with its sodden dampness and its noise and the
all-pervading smell of boiled cabbage. He would soon see mountains again and
with any luck lose himself in France, leaving this terrible business with
Himmler behind him.

He went to his desk and cleared it of pressing
matters, sorted through his papers and left early to make arrangements. And if
he felt at all uneasy he ignored it, like one ignores a small cloud that mars
an otherwise perfect sky. After all, no man who knows history would care to
look a gift horse in the mouth. Well, at least not until he was very far away
from it.

4
Dog and Wolf
‘They entered the chief court of the castle and found it prepared and
fitted up in a style that added to their amazement and doubled their fears . .
.’ Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

The journey to Wewelsburg was particularly
bleak. Low, grey clouds coloured the world in their image: grey buildings gave
way to grey fields, grey farmhouses and grey villages, where grey people waited
at grey stations. He watched the scenery pass, feeling sick, melancholic and
anxious. His previous elation had succumbed to the reality that he had to get
over one more hurdle: Himmler.

On the train he tried to work on an idea for a
new book but his thoughts were scattered. What if Himmler didn’t like his
genealogy and decided to send him back to the drawing board? What if Himmler
were to guess his intentions? He had to get a hold of himself! He couldn’t
present himself to Himmler looking desperate. Bad enough he didn’t look an
example of the robust healthy Aryan, what with his red nose, pale complexion
and sunken eyes. He went to the lavatory and washed his face and pinched his
cheeks and told himself, Calm down.

When the train arrived at the ragged little
station of Paderborn, a car was waiting to take him to the rural village of
Wewelsburg. It rained heavily most of the way but as the fortress appeared, a
crack in the clouds allowed the dying rays of the sun to illuminate the
building’s west face. It lent the citadel an otherworldly gleam that made Rahn
nervous, for it recalled to his mind not the castle of the Grail, but the
castle of the sorcerer Klingsor, Chasteil Marveil, which on the outside
appeared to be the most resplendent castle while inside it was full of traps.
He was so taken by this thought that he was half expecting a number of virgins
to greet him, those whom the neutered Klingsor had kept imprisoned for the
pleasure of it. Instead he was met by silent Waffen SS guards with humourless
faces, who opened the door to the car. They escorted him over the sodden
threshold, into a cheerless courtyard still under construction. Another two
guards then led him directly ahead to the north tower and some moments later,
he was standing at the threshold of a great circular hall.

He waited for his eyes to adjust. At the
centre of the hall stood a round table festively laid with white linen embossed
with sig runes and adorned with lit candles, silverware and crystal glasses.
Around it sat a large number of SS officers and Himmler himself, talking and
laughing, while in the background pleasant music played, Bach perhaps.

All activity paused on his arrival and Rahn
waited, uncertain as to whether he should enter.

‘Come in, join us!’ Himmler said, quite like a
jolly Arthur surrounded by his knights.

Rahn’s breathing paused. What now –
couldn’t he just drop off Himmler’s genealogy and be on his way?

A servant appeared from some hidden corner and
showed him to a seat. In a moment there was wine in his glass and a crisp white
napkin in his lap. He was trapped! There came now a brief introduction,
expounding the merits of his books and his talents as a writer and Grail
historian.

Himmler said then, ‘Before you came, we were
talking about the salamander. Perhaps you can tell us something about it that
we don’t already know?’

All eyes turned to Rahn and he felt his heart
pound in his ears. Not only did he feel a sneeze coming on, but the inner
activity required to prevent it caused his fever to spike, leading to a cold
sweat, which he could feel trickling over his temples. He gathered to him his
wits and smiled faintly.

‘The salamander is a mythical creature,’ he
began. ‘It dies and yields its blood, and from its blood it wins immortal life
. . . death has no power over it—’

‘Correct! Did you hear that, gentlemen? Death
has no power over immortal life!’ Himmler said, expansively. ‘And the Grail
also keeps death at bay, isn’t that so? So tell us, what is the Grail?’

Rahn looked around the circle at the matching
vacant smiles and he guessed there must be thirty or so SS officers gathered
here. ‘The Grail is the vessel that holds the life-giving blood of Jesus
Christ, the god who overcame death through sacrifice.’

‘You see! The Grail holds the immortal Aryan
blood of Jesus, because Jesus was not a Jew, was he? Is there support for this
idea that Jesus was Aryan?’

Rahn’s mouth was drier than a stick and he
sipped at the good Bavarian wine, but it only made him more parched. ‘Well . .
. it is a contentious issue,’ he said. ‘There are two genealogies: one in
Matthew and the other in Luke. The Matthew lineage suggests a dark Jew child;
the Luke lineage suggests a fair Galilean Jew child of mixed heritage.’

Himmler was so pleased his eyes twinkled
behind his pincenez. ‘You see, gentlemen! The Roman church and the Jews have
deceived us! Jesus was an Aryan! Even so, he was only one symbol of sacrifice.
Germany has its own Aryan symbol, our Führer! He says that this, above all, is
Germany’s destiny – to live in the fire of sacrifice, like the
salamander.’

‘What is it that I say, Heinrich?’ The voice
echoed strangely in the high-vaulted room. Suddenly all men stood and Rahn
followed by reflex; his stomach lurched and he forgot to breathe. The air in
the room grew still and the torches flickered and seemed to wane as the man in
the grey suit crossed the threshold.

The glow of the great torch in the arch under
which he stood marked out the bones of his face and threw shadows under his
eyes, eyes that were as wild as a winter sky at midday, wild as those of a wolf
caught tearing at its prey. He came to the table, straight backed with the
self-absorbed mien of a mythological god, and a dumb, astounded silence grew
around him until it was thick and awkward. Rahn, with his sense for unspoken
things, knew that the newcomer was proving to them that they could exist simply
by basking in his presence. He did not need to speak: his very greatness alone
should hold them.

Satisfied that his presence had achieved the
desired effect, Adolf Hitler scanned the group before him, and in his eyes
there glittered the promise of unfathomable mysteries, both miraculous and
magic. The Führer drew a smirk upwards over the scored bones of his face,
stretching at his short moustache, but it was an action neither touched with
irritation nor amusement. It was the expression of an automatic intelligence
that was fast, cold, merciless. It swept over his men, as if to say, I am
neither your friend nor your foe and by you I am completely unaffected. But by
me you are fully enthralled.

Rahn felt a sudden surging of his blood, a
feeling confusingly and quite disturbingly sexual in nature. A primal magnetic
love of kin for kin, of the deepest blood ties. A part of him was disgusted by
it, but another part was exhilarated.

‘Well?’ Hitler said, turning his eyes to the
Reichsführer.

Himmler cleared his throat, the loyal dog
cowering before a superior wolf. ‘Mein Führer!’ he said with passion. ‘We were
just saying that it is your desire that all Germans come to know the true
meaning of sacrifice!’ Himmler adjusted his glasses, as nervous as a schoolboy.

‘IT IS NOT MY DESIRE!’ These words exploded
from Hitler and sent a shockwave around the table. His face moved over every
man with fury in his eye and hatred about the lips. ‘IT IS WHAT THE SPIRIT OF
GERMANY DEMANDS!’ he cried, taking in a strangled breath as he thrust one fist
into the air. ‘THE SPIRIT THAT SEEKS TO MAKE GERMANY GREAT!’

The candles glowed, the torches flapped, a
draught blew in and circled the group. Adolf Hitler stood perfectly still,
reining himself in. He looked about him at the arid landscape of blank faces
with his hands behind his back now, his eyes probing and his lips working inaudible
whispers.

His eyes fell on Rahn.

Rahn’s blood paled and his bones felt like
lead under his skin.

A deep fatigue seized him, as if the light had
gone out of the world and his heart was touched by a shadow.

‘So, the Grail historian is here. Otto Rahn!’
Hitler said, serenely now, stretching his neck as if to adjust the tightness of
his collar. ‘I have read your books. Sacrifice is written in blood in all
history books, do you not agree?’

‘Yes, mein Führer!’ came Rahn’s immediate
reply, which was followed by a sudden terrifying thought that sent him into a
palsy of uncertainty: Was this the reply the Führer wanted?

‘Look at this castle, for instance.’ Hitler
swept the room with a hand, his back stiff, his chin raised and his jaw jutting
out. ‘It has an interesting history. Witches were tortured and put to death
here, and the shedding of blood has made this place more powerful. In fact, all
the ancient people understood the value of human sacrifice – the
Mexicans, the Druids, even our own ancestors. Is this not true?’ he asked Rahn
again.

Oh! Rahn could find no breath in his lungs! He
glanced about. ‘Yes, mein Führer,’ he managed to say.

Hitler gave a nod of his head and made a
gesture with his hand and there was the collective scraping of chairs as they were
drawn into the table and the circle of men sat down.

Rahn breathed a sigh of relief, but his hands
were shaking so he held them in his lap beneath the table to keep them still,
lest the wolf smell his fear and discern from it his unfaithfulness.

‘Heinrich was right,’ the Führer now
confirmed, coming to his own chair. ‘It is the destiny of the German people to
become the consciousness of Europe. Such a responsibility comes only by way of
great sacrifices, and more sacrifices will come before the world will see that
it must, either willingly or by force, unite under the rulership of the German
Reich and its supreme leader . . . in the same way the limbs, if they are to
function properly, must come under the governorship of the mind’s supreme
consciousness! But consciousness, gentlemen, comes at a price!’ He turned in
Rahn’s direction, and the historian felt as though he had plunged his head into
a torrent of water chilled by melting snow. ‘We are at the outset of a
tremendous revolution in moral ideas and man’s spiritual orientation; a new age
of the magic interpretation of the world is coming, an interpretation in terms
of will instead of intellect. The Freemasons once knew this secret, as did the
alchemists and the magicians of old, like Solomon, Basil Valentinus and Faust:
control over evil, harnessing evil – this is true power, gentlemen! The
man who sacrifices evil is nothing to me, but a man who can sacrifice his
goodness
– such a man can become the instrument of the one
destined to fulfil the plan of the gods. You are such men . . . and I am the
destined one!’ He scanned the circle of faces. ‘I am the ideal of the Grail,
gentlemen! And you are the true ideal of the knights of the Grail – the
Brotherhood of the Grail. You are the limbs through which I will one day work
my magic, as Christ performed his magic through his disciples. And I demand of
you the sacrifice even of your goodness!’

Before he sat down, he gave the signal for the
meal to begin.

It was a solemn affair. Rahn could barely
touch his venison. He watched Hitler, askance. The man ate a plate of steamed
vegetables and drank nothing but water and seemed to take no pleasure in it.
Rahn sat half listening to the occasional footfall of the servants, the
clinking of cutlery, the muted music, feeling the slow-burning terror of
intuition rising up to his temples.

How was he going to get out of this?

He looked furtively around him. He didn’t
belong to this circle of SS officers and, more to the point, he didn’t want to
belong to it. Once again, he told himself to calm down. Soon he would be far
from Himmler’s reach and a free man. He would be his own master. All he had to
do was to get through this night, give Himmler his damned genealogy and get
out.

When all were finished, Hitler looked about
his table for a long time, staring at each man in turn.

‘A moment ago,’ he said, ‘you were speaking of
Jesus, but I say you must forget Jesus – for the final saviour of the
world has come; the one who will replace Jesus and lead you to the Apocalypse
and the renewal of the world! Satan, the creative, fertilising spirit principle
of the world, will reign through me in the same way Christ reigned through
Jesus. And those who wish to follow me into the glorious light of a new Reich
must be willing to sacrifice everything: brother, sister, mother, father
– the very death of God and even Jesus Christ himself! They must be
willing to supplant Christ with Satan. For a man cannot follow two masters!’

He tamed his ecstasy by replacing some strands
of hair that had fallen over his eyes. When he stood, all followed again by
reflex, but he was finished with them.

‘We are awake, gentlemen. Let others sleep!’

Rahn remembered this line. Philip le Bel, that
demonic king who had tortured and sent so many Templars to the stake, had been
in the habit of saying these very same words.

With a gesture of disgust Hitler walked out of
the hall as if to say, I have tasted your souls and found you bitter!

Himmler woke them from their reverie. It was
time, he said. Rahn had no idea what he meant.

Only later would he learn that what had gone
before was the customary ritual before a man could be initiated into the circle
of Ritters, or knights. They called it The Last Supper, because the ordeal that
followed was death, and it marked the beginning of a new life.

BOOK: The Sixth Key
13.44Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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