Clement: The Templar's Treasure
The Knight Templar's Treasure Awaits
Craig R. Hipkins
Clement & Dagena return for another action packed adventure. From the cold and dreary shores of Greenland to the fabled land of Vinland. The legendary treasure of the Knights Templar awaits.
Book Excerpt or Article
It was on the Bon Air where Clement finally managed to perfect his first working barometer. One day, while below deck talking to a few of the Templars, he noticed a glass pitcher with a narrow spout which gave him an idea. He brought it up and showed it to Adalbert and Dagena, who looked at it curiously. He then set to work. Within a few hours, he had managed to impress a crowd of men who had gathered on the outside of the sterncastle to examine the instrument. To most of them, it was beyond their comprehension and, to a few, even bordered on witchcraft.
“You can predict the weather with this thing, lad?” Artemus asked dubiously.
Clement pointed to the narrow neck.
“When the water rises in the spout, the atmospheric pressure is decreasing. We will be cautioned of stormy weather ahead.”
Artemus was still unconvinced. “But how do you know for sure?”
“We will find out,” Clement said. “The water in the main chamber is sealed with wax. This should do the trick.”
“I have no doubts. It will work,” Dagena stated confidently.
Clement turned to her and smiled. He noticed Gregory was examining the barometer with a keen interest, touching the glass gently as if by doing so it might begin to work.
“Where did you learn to do this, young Clement?” he asked, without taking his eyes off the instrument.
“Well, sir, I read Aristotle’s work on physics and found it interesting. He believed air had weight. It got me to thinking about the problem and then, Eureka! As Archimedes said, it just came to me. I do believe it will work.”
Gregory turned to him. “You believe air has weight?”
“Yes, sir,” Clement said, running his hand through his long blond locks. “Or, to better state it, air is influenced by pressure. The higher one ascends, the lighter one becomes.”
Gregory cocked an eyebrow and crossed his arms, but it was Artemus who asked the next question.
“But if that were true, would not the clouds fall down on us? And the moon? And the stars?”
Clement chuckled. “No, of course not. I do not mean to belittle your knowledge of such things, but the stars belong to another ether. They are so far away, they have no effect on the earth, at least as far as I am aware. Does the sun fall upon us? And the stars are merely distant suns.”
Artemus appeared troubled by this revelation.
“Young Clement, I do believe your interpretation of the cosmos borders on heresy. Please do not espouse these beliefs in the company of the church hierarchy. By doing so, you open yourself up to trouble. I like you, so let us sequester these sentiments to the Bon Air and recant them or I should report you to the Holy See upon our return to France. You would not want that, I know,” he said, condescendingly.
Clement frowned. “But why, Brother Artemus? We should promote the advancement of the sciences. I am certain if I went to Rome upon our return, I should be able to convince Pope Alexander the truths of these observations and propositions.”
Artemus was rubbing his forehead.
“Young lad, you might be correct in your assumptions. You are a bright one. I can plainly see that. But you are naïve to believe Pope Alexander would even consider the rationale of your theories. You would be labeled a heretic and forced to recant. The earth is the center of our universe. Ptolemy proved this centuries ago. Let us rest upon this.”
Clement threw his arms up in the air. He was about to respond to Artemus when Adalbert interrupted.
“The boy is correct, Artemus, but there is no sense in arguing the point. There are some things Rome knows but will never divulge to the common man. There is a reason for this, but I am not at liberty to discuss these issues.”
Artemus looked at Adalbert uneasily.
“If you say so, Brother Adalbert. I will not bring the subject up again, but the lad treads dangerously.”
He glanced at Clement’s barometer and shook his head.
“It will be interesting to see if this thing works,” Artemus commented, touching the glass lightly with his stubby thumb.
Clement and Dagena retired into the sterncastle. Tristan was seated at the small table perusing a book by oil lamp. He looked up when they entered.
“What are you reading, Tristan?” Clement asked, hovering over him.
“Brother Gregory is making me read Lucretius. I would rather be helping Brother Verus and Brother Leo carve the new figurehead. Father wants one of the Virgin Mary.”
Dagena sat down next to him.
“Well, Tristan, it is just as important to study books as it is to do work with your hands. You should be well-rounded.”
The boy shrugged. “Aye, Dagena, I guess so. But it is extremely boring.”
The door opened. Adalbert walked in, followed closely by Gregory. Adalbert had a smirk on his face but the same could not be said for Gregory, who hardly ever cracked a smile. In fact, neither Clement nor Dagena had ever seen him smile except on the first day when he made his grand entrance into their lives.
“I have something else to show you,” Adalbert said, addressing Clement.
He opened his chest and sifted through a pile of scrolls, pulling out a small leather-bound book. He handed it to Clement, who stared at it with fascination.
“I almost forgot about it,” Adalbert said, before clearing his throat.
Opening it to the first page, Clement strained his eyes to read the fine print.
“What language is this?” the teen asked. His eyes focusing intently on the words in the book.
Adalbert shrugged. “I was hoping you could tell me. You are the language expert.”
“Where did you get this?”
“It was found on the drifting vessel next to the map. It is in the hand of the Benedictine scholar, John of Troyes. He disappeared along with the others on the ship.”
Clement sat down on the bench seat next to Tristan, his eyes glued to the curious script.
“It has the Latin translation of the word next to the strange language. I should be able to have a good understanding of this obscure tongue once I have studied it for a few days.”
Adalbert smiled. “That is what I was hoping. I have not had time to give it much attention, and even if I did, I should not master it as you will. The capacity of my brain does not work like yours. I suspect the language belongs to the indigenous inhabitants of the land to which we travel.”
Clement looked up. “Aye, I suspected as much. I shall be fluent in their tongue by the time we arrive there, Adalbert.”
“That is what I was hoping you would say.”
Dagena was looking over Clement’s shoulder. Clement had been teaching her and Olaf, Latin, before they left on the voyage. She was a keen and clever student and was now almost as fluent in the language as Clement.
“It is a strange tongue, I must say,” the girl said. “Sharp syllables.”
The Benedictine, John of Troyes, had attempted to illustrate certain words where the meaning might be in doubt or hard to interpret into Latin.
“John did a good job of translating,” Clement said, looking up at her.
He flipped to the back of the book and noticed there was a sketch of a man. He seemed to be middle aged, with a pensive, almost weary look to him, as if something troubled him. His facial features were definitely not western. He resembled a person who might be from one of the eastern cultures. The name under the sketch read:
“I wonder who he is,” Dagena asked. This caught Tristan’s attention and the younger boy scooted over closer to Clement to have a look.
“He looks sad,” Tristan said.
“We think he might be one of their kings,” Adalbert said, pouring himself a mug of hot chicory water. “But we do not know for sure. Obviously, John of Troyes knew him.”
Adalbert took a sip of his drink and was about to offer some to Clement and Dagena when the door to the sterncastle flew open and Artemus came barging in.
“Sail, off to the southwest!”
The book was immediately forgotten and the sterncastle left empty, except for Gregory, who casually poured himself a mug of chicory water.
A crowd of Templars had gathered on the deck, some of them leaning on the port rail. Adalbert joined them but Clement had other plans. He led Dagena up the ladder onto the castle roof and pulled his glass from his cloak pocket.
“Is it the Green Ship?” Dagena asked, with hope in her voice.
He was squinting through the glass, but the ship, even looking through the rudimentary lens was still too distant to see clearly. He looked behind them and off to starboard he could see the rest of the Templar fleet. The sails flapped in the North Atlantic breeze. Adalbert had lost only one ship since they had left Normandy. One of the galley vessels had foundered off the coast of Iceland with the loss of all hands except for a single survivor, who had managed to climb onto a rock while the vessel was being dashed to pieces. Clearly, the Templar fleet had been lucky.
Clement handed the glass to Dagena and she attempted to focus on the vessel but the sail seemed to be getting smaller on the horizon.
“I can hardly see it now,” Dagena said.
Clement took the glass back, took a quick look, and then leaned over the railing.
“Adalbert, they are leeward and running from us!” Clement hollered.
Adalbert glanced up and Clement held up his hands, his eyes bulging like a beetle.
“What are we waiting for? Have the men man the oars!”
The Templar leader hesitated, but then gave the order. He did not know the identity of the ship or ships on the horizon, but he could guess. There was a good chance it was the Green Ship or one of the other vessels of Clement’s fleet. It might also be one of Halfdan’s vessels, but if that were the case, the mysterious fleet of Sir Humphrey Rochford, AKA Halfdan, had run into some trouble or difficulties.
A loud trumpet blast permeated the cold bitter air. This was followed by trumpets blaring from the other vessels in rapid succession. Adalbert had a signal system. Primitive though it was, it worked. The fleet was suddenly turning toward the southwest. Clement felt his heart beating rapidly. He was excited. If this was the Green Ship it would soon be back in his possession. He turned to Dagena, who was still studying the horizon, her hand resting on her forehead.
“Tis a balmy day, Dagena. If that is the Green Ship, I will be the first to board her.”
Clement once again leaned over the rail.
“Adalbert, what the devil are we waiting for? We need to get the chains and grappling hooks ready!” Clement demanded.
This time Adalbert glanced up and motioned for Clement to come down from topside. The boy quickly slid down the ladder, followed by the girl. Adalbert placed a hand on his shoulder and smiled.
“We need to have a little chat, my young friend.”
Clement’s face got serious while he allowed Adalbert to lead him into the sterncastle.
Craig R. Hipkins grew up in Hubbardston Massachusetts. He is the author of medieval and gothic fiction. His novel, Adalbert is the sequel to Astrolabe written by his late twin brother Jay S. Hipkins (1968-2018) He is an avid long-distance runner and enjoys astronomy in his spare time.