"Knights Templar" by Mary W. [click here to e-mail her]
Continued from the third page..

Part Nineteen

The two jeeps carrying the Legacy team pulled up in front of an aging stone building. Jesus had arranged for rooms in a private home which took in the rare tourists who managed to wander so far from the main cities. It's owners, their guide explained, were related to one of the other House members and would ask no questions of their American guests. Nick looked up at the cracked facade with a rueful grin.

"Well, I've stayed in worse." He said, hoisting his bag up on his shoulder. "At least this place will have indoor plumbing, unlike some of those dig sites Derek's dragged me to."

"Nice quiet little town." Alex commented, looking up and down the dusty streets.

"Let's hope it stays that way." Derek replied grimly.

"If Arkady is already here, where would he be staying?" Philip asked, reaching into the jeep for his bag.

"Nick, once we've settled in I want you to start scouting the area, see if you can located Arkady." Derek ordered, his eyes stern. "Alex you stay and set up here. Make sure you can get a good connection to the Legacy database from your laptop. Philip and I will go to the church and talk to the local priest."

Nick cast a quick look at the other members of his party, his mind recalling another time when his precept had split the team to better cover more ground. That decision, which had cost Julia her life, had hung between the young man and his mentor for a very long time. Now he feared Derek had again chosen expediency over safety. Alex frowned and ever so slightly shook her head, motioning him to remain silent for the time being.

"Senor Rayne? May I introduce our host, Senor Allende. He is abuelo to our youngest member Vincente." Jesus lead another elderly man to the group, glancing with concern at Derek. The other man, a small frail looking individual with a luxurious handlebar mustache, held out his hand to the groups leader.

"Buenos Dias, Senor Rayne." The man began, his English accented but understandable. "It is an honor to have you here. Mi Casa es su Casa. My home is your home."

"Thank you for having us, Senor Allende." Derek responded gravely, shaking the old man's hand firmly. "I hope that my friends and I will not be too much of an imposition." He turned and handed Alex his bag then motioned to their guide. "Jesus, can you tell me how far it is to the church from here?"

"You will speak to Padre Saenz?" Senor Allende asked quizzically. "He will be here in a few moments to speak to my family."

"I'm going to go ahead with my recon." Nick said, opening his bag on the jeeps hood.

"What are you looking for?" Alex asked.

"My gun." He replied, fishing the small package out of the bottom of the bag. He unwrapped it and clipped the revolver to the back of his belt, under his shirt.

"How did you get that past customs?" Philip asked, horrified.

"It was in my luggage in a lined box." Nick replied, scanning the dusty streets with a practiced eye. "Figured I had a better chance of getting into the country with it there than in my carry on stuff. " He shrugged off the concerned glances directed at him by his team. "What? Did you really think I was going to run up against Arkady without a weapon, especially after the last time?"

"There's no time for that now." Derek interjected, motioning Alex forward. "Just try to keep that out sight of the local police." He entered the house behind Alex with Philip, Jesus and Senor Allende trailing along behind him. Nick shrugged and started off down the street, then stopped and looked back along the row of stone buildings. He could feel the prickling of the hair on the back of his neck as it stood up in the noon day heat. There were eyes watching him walk down the street yet there was no one visible on the street.

"Must be my imagination." He muttered to himself, walking quickly down the cobblestone street.
"Imagination can be a dangerous thing, soldier. Gets people into all sorts of trouble." A voice replied from behind him. He whirled to find himself looking into Marianne's amused eyes. The tall brunette was leaning against the crumbling facade of the town's only bank, dressed in beige slacks and shirt. Her long hair was pulled up into a tight bun and tucked inside a dusty Panama hat. She smiled engagingly at the surprised man.

"Where the hell did you come from?" he sputtered, reaching automatically for the gun at his belt.

"That wouldn't be a good idea." She pointed up, looking up the alley way behind him. "Since I think that's a police officer coming towards us. Considering the trouble lately with the Basques, the police would be less than understanding about some American walking their streets "packing heat". That is the proper phrase, isn't it?"

"Close enough." Nick agreed grudgingly, yanking his jacket back over the clip at his belt. "You didn't answer my question."

"Not likely to either, not if it's asked in that tone of voice." She began to move down the alley towards the spot where the officer had been standing. Nick fell in at her side, curiosity winning out over his natural paranoia.

"You're after the cup, aren't you?"

"Not exactly." Marianne replied, matching her stride to the young man at her side. "I'm just here to observe. Treasure hunts are not my favorite type of sporting events. I'd rather be out hunting boar with my hounds and my bow. Or maybe a bear. Yes, right now I would dearly love to be hunting bear."

"So sorry we're keeping you from your playtime." Nick replied sarcastically. "I don't suppose you want to tell me what you and your brother want with Derek or is that something I'll have to find out the hard way."

"I haven't a clue what my brother might want, either with the cup or Derek." She said, mentally chastising herself for the lie. "We can talk about it some other time. For right now, I suggest we step into this alleyway here and wait for a certain Mr. Arkady to pass us by when he steps out of that café across the street. If we are clever we can follow without being seen and discover where he goes. What do you say, soldier? Willing to call a temporary truce until the cup is found?"

Nick looked quickly in the direction of the café Marianne mentioned. Arkady was there, barely visible through the glass as he used their telephone. He glanced back at the woman at his side, who was already moving to take up a position in the alley. Nick weighed what he knew about Arkady with what he didn't know about this mysterious creature offering her assistance and slid into the alley at her side. "Truce it is. But when this is over…"

"When this is over soldier, you and I will have many stories to tell and songs to sing, just as all warriors do at the end of their battle. But for now…" she leaned against the brick walls, willing the shadows to cover her and her companion as they waited for their prey to make his next move.

Part Twenty

Arkady mentally cursed a blue streak as he slammed the café's phone done. It was bad enough that he was having to stay in that joke of a bed and breakfast but that there was no working phone in the hostel which had been almost too much to believe. It had taken him some time to find a phone who's owner was willing to allow him to monopolize it. If that wasn't enough, the small group of hired mercenaries he had hired before arriving in Madrid had just been picked up in a general round-up by the authorities. Someone, it seemed, had called in a tip about Basque extremists gathering in a particular house, armed with automatic and chemical weapons. The house had just happened to be leased under his name and the men in his employee, something the anonymous tipster had neglected to mention. The police hadn't wasted time in assaulting the place and it would be some time before his lawyers would be able to free them. *If I bother to free them at all.* he fumed, grabbing his now wrinkled jacket and storming out of the café. *They're no use to me now.* He stomped down the streets, ignoring the annoyed looks from the local inhabitants he managed to shove out of his way. He didn't notice the two shadows following him until he reached the plaza, the center of the town's social life. It was then he happened to glance into a shop window and recognize a figure reflected there.

Nick and Marianne followed the agitated Arkady for several blocks, trying to remain as inconspicuous as possible, a feat made more difficult by the fact that strangers rarely visited the small town and so tended to stand out. Nick noticed that more than a few of the men they passed gave his companion a look that spoke volumes. "Don't think you're going to stay incognito long." He commented, maneuvering so that he was between the woman and most of the men they passed.

Marianne sighed. "Damien tells me that I'm a distraction. I wouldn't know, though. The only time I look in a mirror…well, let's just say it's not my face I'm looking for." She grinned as a wicked thought surfaced. Without warning she leaned over and planted a kiss on the surprised ex-SEAL's cheek. "There. Now they will look at you with envy, thinking you must be "muy macho" very much a man to have such a woman."

Nick laughed, then stopped in his tracks. Their quarry had moved into the central plaza and was staring into a shop window with an intensity that worried him. "Damn! I think we've been made." He moved forward to intercept the man when he realized his companion was no longer at his side. "Where the hell did she go?" He turned back to see Arkady moving towards him across the plaza.

*Damn!* Arkady thought, seeing the stocky figure of Rayne's chief of security in the glass. *Well, I knew I was going to run into that lot sooner or later. Maybe I can turn this to my advantage.* He turned and moved directly toward the surprised Legacy member, a false smile on his face. "Mr. Boyle! Fancy meeting you here. Small world, isn't it?"

"Yeah, small world." Nick replied, quickly regaining his composure. "So, what brings you to this little piece of Heaven?"

"Oh, I think we both know what I'm here for Nick. I can call you Nick can't I?"

"Mr. Boyle is fine with me." Nick replied tightly.

"Really now, that's not very friendly is it? I'm not as bad a person as Derek would have you believe."

"Tell that to Sister Jehanne. I'm sure it would be a great comfort to her to know you didn't mean to let her walk into that demon's clutches."

Arkady smiled sadly. "Well, even if I had told her, do you think she would have listened? Fanatics have a way of hearing only what they want to hear."

"What's the point of this conversation, Arkady?" Nick replied angrily, his eyes never leaving the man in front of him.

"You're right, this discussion is rather pointless isn't it? Well, I think I see a conversation that might be much more interesting. That policeman over there, the one talking to the pretty brunette. I wonder what he'd say when I tell him you threatened me with that illegal gun you're wearing."

Nick turned to see Marianne talking animatedly to a local officer who was listening intently to whatever she had said. He moved to stop Arkady from walking across the street towards them then stopped as the officer turned to them with a frown.

"Senor, this lady says that you have threatened her and her friends with violence. Is this true?"

Arkady smiled smugly at Nick. "Yes, this young man has made some threats…"

"No Senor, I'm talking about you. This Senorita has said you are carrying a weapon. This is a crime in Spain, punishable by time in jail."

"That's absurd! This man is the one carrying a gun not me. If you don't believe me, search him." Arkady demanded, his voice raised in anger.

Nick looked quickly at Marianne, who nodded imperceptibly. "Sure, go ahead. I've nothing to hide." He locked his finger together behind his head and stood with his legs apart as the officer did a quick pat down. When he ran his hand down Nick's back, the soldier realized that the familiar bulge of his gun clip was missing. Nick looked back at his companion to see her surreptitiously make a mystical sign with her hand in the air behind Arkady.

"My apologies, Senor. It is obvious you are not carrying a weapon." The officer removed his baton from his belt and moved to stand in front of Arkady. "Now you."

"This is ridiculous. I'm not carrying…" Arkady's voice trailed off as he felt the gun clip fall from his belt to the ground behind him. "This is a trap! A set-up! These people are trying to frame me!"

"We will let the authorities decide what is true in your case, Senor. Senorita, I would ask that you and your friend not leave the village until this matter is resolved." The officer roughly grabbed the still protesting Arkady and moved him quickly out of the plaza and towards the jail.

Nick looked at his companion with suspicion. "How did you do that?"

"Now is not the time to discuss parlor tricks, soldier. We must gather your fellow hunters and the find the cup, before our enemy finds an official willing to believe in the color of his money." She trotted off in the direction of the hotel, Nick following quickly behind her. In the distance, Arkady's voice could still be heard protesting his innocence.

Part Twenty-One

Derek moved quickly down the narrow streets, the village priest and Philip at his side. The group had not had to wait long before beginning their journey to the village Church. Padre Saenz had arrived at the residence shortly after Nick had left on his reconnaissance and had been greeted with enthusiasm by his cousin Jesus.

"Holla Primo!" Jesus had called out, ignoring the shocked look on his hosts face. "Como estas? How are you ? It's been a long time since we last saw one another hasn't it?'

"Probably as long as it's been since your last confession." Padre Saenz replied dryly in Spanish, embracing his cousin with affection. "What brings you here to our little village? Surely it's not to hear one of my sermons."

"No!" Jesus laughed, motioning the remaining Legacy members to step forward. "I've heard enough sermons in my lifetime. My employer, Senor de la Vega, asked me to bring these people to Las Rosales. They have an interest in the old gravestones behind the church and the caverns underneath it."

"We're not far from the church are we?" Alex asked, fishing in her jacket for the keys to the jeep. She ignored the frown on her precept's face, determined that this time she would not be left behind to mind the computers.

"No Senorita, the church is just a little over a mile from here at the edge of town." Jesus assured her, tucking his own keys back in his pocket. "This is a small village. Everything here is within walking distance."

"Suddenly my poor church is the center of attention." Padre Saenz commented switching to heavily accented English. His eyes swept over the strangers finally lighting on Philip's priestly collar. "You are interested in the history of my church, my brother?"

"Father Philip Callighan at your service Sir. These are my friends Dr. Derek Rayne and Alexandra Moreau." Philip began, looking back at his leader. Derek motioned for him to continue. "We are from the Luna Foundation in California and have an interest in the relationship between your church and an ancient fighting order known as the Knights Templar. We have been told that some of that order might have retired to this village many centuries ago, when the order was disbanded."

"I have heard stories since I was a nino that such an order once buried some of their dead in our old cemetery, but there is no written proof of that. Only the strange symbols on some of the tombstones that the old women say are signs to keep away the devil." Padre Saenz thought for a moment, then looked intently at his cousin. "Senor de la Vega is a good and decent man. If he speaks for you, then I can trust you come only in the service of good. Come, I will show you the church and the graveyard. The caves, I fear, you will have to search yourself. I'm too old for such explorations. But I fear you may be disappointed." He took his cousin by the arm and began to walk in the direction of the church. Derek and Philip quietly fell into step behind them.

"Father, you said your church has become the center of attention." Alex commented as she strolled along beside the older men. "Has someone else been asking about the Templars?"

"A man was asking about the church just today. From the way he spoke I would say he was an American, like you. He was pleasant enough but his eyes were cold, like a snake. It is fortunate that the Bishop sent that young couple to warn me of his designs on my church."

Derek stopped dead in the center of the sidewalk. "A young couple? Was the man tall and blond and the woman dark-haired with violet eyes?"

"Ah, You known them!" Padre Saenz exclaimed, turning back to the stranger. "Yes, that was them. A very nice young couple, but strange in their own way. Yet I felt that their warning was meant with good intentions. They were, after all, sent by the Bishop." He continued back along his path, oblivious to the effect his words had on the man behind him.

"So our mysterious friends got here ahead of us." Alex commented, gently urging her stunned precept on down the road. "If they knew the cup was here, why didn't they just get it and leave?"

"I don't think they can." Derek whispered, his mind racing at the unexpected news. His hand slipped involuntarily to the arrow pendant under his shirt, reassuring himself that the Lady's gift was still there. "I think they are only able to guard it from a distance. But why is the danger so great now? What has changed since it was brought here that makes it so important that the cup be moved again?"

"Arkady's interest?" Alex guessed, watching Philip try out his Spanish on his fellow priest.

"No. If it were just Arkady they would eliminate him as they did his hired killer. Something else has occurred to make this place too dangerous for the cup to remain." Derek quickened his pace, pulling Alex along in his wake. Ahead of them was the old village church and the last piece of their puzzle.

Nick raced along the narrow streets, following the instructions his companion had received from passersby. At least, he hoped that's what she had asked. Nick's Spanish was passable for shore leave but Marianne had left him in the dirt when she had begun to speak to the local postman. "Pretty long conversation for such a simple question." He remarked, glancing back to see if the woman was still beside him.

"No conversation is ever simple, especially in a small town." Marianne replied, looking behind her with a frown. "Did it occur to you, soldier, that it was too easy to get Mr. Arkady out of the way?"

"Yeah, surprisingly it did. Don't suppose you know who he called?"

"Probably reinforcements. There is no more time to waste." Marianne stopped and shaded her eyes from the bright sunlight. "There is the church. Your companions should be here shortly. Find the treasure and find it soon, lest the fates catch up with you and wrest your prize away." She turned and started off across the field, away from the churchyard.

"Hey! Where are you going?" Nick called out, starting after her. Suddenly he felt a rush of wings above his head as a bird flew silently out of the sun and grazed his face. He threw himself to the ground and rolled, reaching instinctively for the gun he knew was no longer there. But the attack did not continue. Nick watched in amazement as a Little Owl flew after the rapidly fading figure of the woman as she made for a glade of trees beside a mound of rocks. It dipped momentarily to snatch a field mouse off the ground before it vanished as quietly as it had appeared. *What the hell!* he thought to himself. *Owls don't come out in the daytime. Hell, I'm not even sure there are owl like that in Spain. What's going on?* He picked himself up and after a moments hesitation, retreated back to the church to await reinforcements.


"Well, all players are on the board now." Damien commented, leaning against the rocks as his sister moved to join him. He glanced back at the partially blocked entrance to the caves that would soon become the center of the human's treasure hunt.

"Yes, but I fear that it will take more time than they have for them to find the right path to their goal." Marianne remarked, removing her hat and letting her hair down from it's severe bun. From behind her, the owl which had attacked Nick swooped down onto a shaded branch, the appearence of a frown on it's face. It sat solemnly on the tree branch, finishing it's meal as it waited for it's mistresses attention. "Yes, I know you don't like hunting in the daylight, but there was no other way and besides there weren't any crows about. I made sure of that. You and I both know the wolves would have been too rough to use as a distraction. I need the man able to defend himself and his friends, not partially crippled by the jaws of a playful dog." She tossed the hat down under the tree and moved to join her brother beside the cave entrance.

"We've already done more for these humans than we should." Damien reminded her, examining the rocks with exaggerated care. "We can do no more for them except watch."

"I'm aware of our limitations." Marianne replied in exasperation. "All I'm saying is that they need more time." She ran one hand over the crumbling rocks blocking the entrance, noting the slight gaps with interest. "Perhaps a little diversionary tactic is in order."

"Sister…" Damien warned, his voice grim.

"I'm not suggesting that we intervene again. Just that we … point out a few things that they might use to send their adversary in another direction, at least for a while."

Damien sighed then smiled, throwing his hands up in the air. He knew no matter what he said, she would hunt in her own way, maneuvering the Legacy members as she would her hunting dogs until she had brought down the prize. With any luck, he would be there at the kill to prevent her hunter's instincts from overriding her noble heart. He moved out of the glade and disappeared into the bright waves of sunshine, leaving Marianne to contemplate her next move. Above their heads, the owl fluffed his wings and closed his yellow eyes, preparing for the coming of night and the beginning of a proper hunt.

Part Twenty-Two

"Derek! Over here!" Nick called out, holding a piece of his shirt to the scratches the owls claws had left on the top of his head. He grimaced as he pulled the cloth away to check of the bleeding had stopped. From what little he knew about owls, he had a feeling that he had gotten off lucky to only have received a few superficial scratches.

"What happened to you?" Alex asked, running up to her partner.

"I lost an argument with an owl." Nick replied, shrugging off her concern. "Your friends around here somewhere, Derek."

"My friend?" Derek responded, looking beyond Nick to the old church.

"Yeah, the lady with the attitude. She helped me ditch Arkady back in the village square, but I have a feeling that won't last long. She essentially told me to get on with it, find the prize before Arkady and his goons regroup."

Derek tore his eyes from the church to focus on Nick. "Did she do this to you?"

"No. But I bet she and that owl on are first name basis. It's not bad, let's just get on with it. It's going to be dark soon"

Padre Saenz approached the group a worried frown on his face. "You are injured my son?"

Nick made a face and tucked the rag in his pants pocket. "Not really. Thanks for asking."

"Father, can we examine the church now?" Philip requested, attempting to distract the older man from Nick's injury.

"Yes, of course. There are stones in the church which have symbols on them that no one remembers the meaning of. Also, some of the older gravestones have these marks. Those are located at the far end of the cemetery, close to one of the entrances to the caves." The Spanish priest moved to lead his guests into his sanctuary, followed by all but Derek. The Legacy precept stood for a moment looking across the field caught in a vision of the future.

He saw his friends running through an underground tunnel, bullets flying around them. A voice was urging them to run faster, but he wasn't sure why. There was the sound of an explosion just behind him and rocks and dust flying everywhere. With a startled gasp, he came out of the vision to find himself looking Philip's worried eyes.

"I saw you stay behind and thought there might be something wrong." Philip said, his soft brogue soothing to the ear.

"I saw something, something that tells me we'd better get on with this hunt, before Arkady's reinforcements arrive to help their master." Derek turned and started off towards the cemetery, the young priest trailing in his wake. Behind them the shape of an owl in flight could be seen in the fading light.

Part Twenty-Three

Alex and Philip managed to make tracings of the symbols in the church on the gravestones before the sun set too far in the horizon. They seemed to be similar to those found on the armor, clues pointing to a location near the church where something had been concealed. But finding their precise translation was proving more difficult than either of the Legacy researchers had anticipated. Padre Saenz had graciously invited the group to take supper with him, an invitation which they were glad to accept. His housekeeper had quickly set more places at the priests table with the help of her granddaughter, a bored young teenage girl with an interest in anything American. She and Nick had quickly struck up a conversation about music and cars.

"I think we need to have a frame of reference to guide us to the right location." Alex remarked, reading her notes for the fifth time. She stretched her arms above her head, trying to work the knots out her back. "If our translation is correct, then these are directions to somewhere but they make no sense."

"They refer to landmarks that may no longer exist." Philip mused, munching on a piece of bread. "Trees that died long ago, buildings that burned, that sort of thing."

Derek only half listened to the conversation, his eyes fixed on the fire before him. His vision had disturbed him more than he was willing to admit. Somewhere in the background, the young girl was playing a CD for Nick, a song by Loreena McKennett with a Middle Eastern beat to it. The heat in the room and the tempo of the music lulled him into a trance-like state, his Sight overwhelming his normal senses. A vision began to form, a vision of a stone cavern with shelves carved into the walls. Nothing moved in the room, not even the dust yet somehow he sensed a force was present, beckoning him. In his vision he moved to a shadowed niche peering futility into the darkness for the thing he knew was there. A voice sounded softly in his ear…

"There Knight, there is what you seek. Reach out your hand to it and it is yours. Reach out…" He could just make out the glow in the far corner and feel the power emanating from it. A power which was intoxicating in its strength. He reached for it, longing for it's touch, longing for something he could not describe. "Reach out Knight…"

"Derek?" Alex's voice broke through his reverie, banishing his vision as quickly as it had formed. "Are you all right?"

"Yes, I'm fine." He replied, his voice tight. "What have you discovered?"

"Padre Saenz has gone into his study to see if he can find his predecessors notes. Seems the priest that was assigned here before he was had made a study of those marks in the church and in the graveyard. He seemed to feel that if he could find out what the lay of the land was when they were made, he might be able to locate the entrance to cave the directions mention." Alex knelt quietly at his Precept's feet, her face worried. "What is it, Derek? Tell me what's wrong and don't tell me nothing because I know better."

"It's just a vision Alex" he replied, softly, looking back at the fire. "A voice in my head telling me to reach out for something. It frightens me."

"Why does it frighten you?"

"Because of how much I want what I'm reaching for. Someone once told me that the cursed items the Legacy finds itself in possession of are not evil but have been used to perform evil deeds. The intent of the user is all important. And the faith. I'm not sure my motives are all that pure in seeking the Grail or my faith strong enough to face it."

Alex laid a hand gently on her mentors arm in comfort. "If you can trust yourself as completely as we trust in you Derek, than your faith will be strong enough and your motives will be clear. Just believe in yourself. I do."

Derek smiled wearily at his friend. "Thank you Alex."

"We found it!" Jesus exclaimed, entering with his cousin at his heels. "Here, Padre Moreno made a map of the area from an description he found in an old tome. See, here are the markers that the symbols speak of. The cave entrance is just here." He pointed to a spot on the map with a gnarled finger.

Nick looked down at the map with interest. "Well, if that marker is the Church," he began , pointing to a rough drawing of a building in the center of the map, "then this cave entrance is somewhere in the graveyard."

"Yes." Padre Saenz agreed, peering at the map. "It looks as if the entrance is at the far corner of the graveyard, but I haven't seen anything that looks like a cave there."

"It's probably overgrown by now." Alex commented.

"Or it was deliberately blocked. Is there a sepulcher or grave in that far corner?" Derek asked, his interest peaked.

"Yes, now that you mention it. There is a very old grave there, but I can not tell you whose. There is no headstone, only a pile of rocks to mark where the body lay. I wouldn't have know it for a grave at all except for a notation in the church registry." Padre Saenz bustled back into his office and returned with a dusty, leather-bound tome. Derek winced as the old priest dropped the ancient manuscript unceremoniously on the table. "Now where did I see that…Oh yes, here it is. An unknown vagrant was buried in that part of the graveyard. Oh dear!" The elderly priest re-read the faded writing on the page with a worried frown.

"What's wrong father?" Philip asked.

"That part of the graveyard was unconsecrated ground when this burial was recorded." The priest explained, rubbing his hands together nervously. "This man was buried there because he was a suicide."

"Are you sure, Padre?" Alex asked, moving to stand beside the old man.

"It is so hard to read this writing." Padre Saenz complained, moving his finger slowly across the entry. "I would not be able to read it at all if not for Padre Moreno's insistence that we both be able to read it. He was interested in the study of his families lineage and thought that translating these entries would help others who held a similar interest."

"Good for him." Nick remarked, sitting on the edge of the group where he could watch the door. "So what's the problem with unconsecrated ground?"

"Nothing." Derek replied firmly. "Anyone looking for the treasure wouldn't think to look in unhallowed ground because of the item's reputation. It would make the perfect hiding place."

"What is this item you are seeking?" Padre Saenz asked suspiciously.

"Something that the Church would not want to fall into the hands of a man like Arkady. It is the cup of Christ, the Holy Grail." Derek answered solemnly.

"Dios Mio!" Padre Saenz moaned, then fainted dead away.

To be continued...

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