Wordcarpenter Books

Chapter Thirty-eight 


In which Hellmantle reach their houseboat on the lake below the fort

and beside the mosque

Srinagar, Kashmir Valley, Jammu & Kashmir Province

After over 26 hours on the road, Hellmantle was happy to have a place on the water with no neighbors. Ramazon had given them the best one since there were no other travelers there. The boat was just like a first-class car on a train. There was a long corridor that joined a master bedroom and then a second room and the kitchen beside the main entrance, and the dining room with the old carved ceiling fascia, wooden chairs and rich colored rugs. The smoking room, with a desk and couches in the corners with flowing drapes over lavish windows, opened onto the deck where Hellmantle and D'Aqs sat out under a canopy from the rain. It face west unobstructed by anything. Underneath the dozens of rugs in the houseboat, the moaning squeals could be heard underfoot from water-warped wood. But it did nothing to take away from its splendor. The other side of the river was just as it had been 2000 years ago except for the mosque. The houseboat was a step back a hundred years but the view unaltered since the time of Jesus and Thomas journeyed here from the Holy Land.

They unpacked and then put their feet up on the deck and drank a pot of Kashmiri tea. Hellmantle's senses thawed from being in a bent and oppressed position on the bus so there was a warm relaxing feeling that flooded him when he finally stretched out and relaxed. Muscles twitched and joints fought off aches as he wondered if this was really the place where Jesus and Thomas lived their last days.

"Perhaps Jesus traveled the known world and thought Srinagar was what He thought heaven on earth is like? And He chose to end his last years here on the lakeside in the Vale de Kashmir."

Ramazon appeared with the tea ready. Hellmantle took it upon himself to ask Ramazon about picking up some betel nut. He asked him if he could find some.

"Betel nut? What is that?" Hellmantle had a plan B.

"Is hashish legal here?"

        "Hashish is very good, no problem. Very popular here."

"Okay, I will buy it and give you a big tip," he said to Ramazon.

"I have a friend. How much?"

"Enough for seven days for two heavy smokers."

"I-" Hellmantle raised his hand in protest.

"Say, ten days worth, two big white guys, regular smokers of balsam for aches and pains. Big tip." Ramazon nodded.

"No problem."

Over tea Hellmantle decided to bring up the legend of Thomas and Jesus with Ramazon, who was serving them.

"So I recently read in a history book that there is the tomb of Jesus and the tomb of Saint Thomas located around here," he said, probing. "Have you heard of it?" Hellmantle and D'Aqs casually sipped the tea, which was full of fruity bouquet.

"Ah, I don't know such as these names." Ramazon smiled and nodded back. "But there is a Christian tomb in Conyar in the old city." Ramazon's bloodshot eyes sparkled beside the gas-lit light resting on the mantelpiece.

"My friend is Christian. He talk to you." He left them to their tea.

        "You know it's March 1st in three days. And March 1st is the day that the prophecy should be fulfilled, according to the Blonde Acquitaine prophecy."

        "I thought his birthday was Christmas," said D'Aqs, jousting with him.

        "As is clear during the Council of Nicea in 325AD, many of the beliefs from Sol Invictus were incorporated into the body of Christian thought."

        "The Sun God cult. I'm aware of this.""

        "This merging created a hybrid religion of new Christian thought and the Sol Invictus beliefs. There are many examples scholars have identified, such as the changing of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, and making Jesus' birthday on December 25th rather than its proper date of March 1st. By the mid fourth century the machinery was pretty much in place for Nazarene thought to be replaced by this new religion, that was a composite of new thinking and old established thought. It helped its initial survival chances, and no doubt it was a stroke of genius by Constantine to introduce a new religion to Rome. But many knew that as he lay on his deathbed it was the makings of a deathblow to adherents of Jesus' real message. Thus the Desposyni became dispossessed."

"So we must find the buried scrolls with His original thought and give it to the world."

"Couldn't have said it better myself." With that being settled, and having finished their tea, Ramazon returned with his friend Abid, who brought in his geiger. It was a large water pipe, with a large rounded bowl and long metal tube coming out for the smoker to puff. Their faithful Muslim friend had even brought them a few snub-nosed bottles of beer, besides a tremendous chunk of very hard blonde hashish. They must have been past their past due dates but they tasted just fine. Ramazon bit off a chunk of hashish and packed the geiger. Then he pulled out a wooden match, struck the flame and placed it horizontally across the bowl face while he inhaled.

"I used to smoke but I don't much anymore," he said, exhaling as he spoke. He pushed the long pipe to Hellmantle so he inhaled in the same fashion as Ramazon. For D'Aqs, it wasn't the first time he had been offered an indigenous narcotic from a local in a new part of the world. He politely followed local custom.

Passing it back to Ramazon, D'Aqs could see that he was a good man and a smart man and a man of grace. Smoking with a native Kashmiri was an enjoyable affair. He told us that he grew up in the mountains where his brother and sister still live, a place they could visit on horseback. He told the cousins they had to see a sunrise from the mountain peak in Kashmir. He was so serious when he said it that Hellmantle promised himself he would make a sincere effort to see one.

With the sun down over the river, D'Aqs shivered in the night breeze. Ramazon got up and returned with two wool ponchos.

"May be a good idea," said Hellmantle. "Wearing what Kashmiris wear when trekking in the mountains may prevent unwanted inquiries."

"Then we can be sure we'll be warm." The gray wool poncho fit perfectly and immediately made them both warm.

"Easy to forget we're so high up right here," said D'Aqs, mellowed and relaxed.

"It's the garment that will enable me nurture my inner hearth in the cold climes of the highest mountains in the world."

        Abid, who had not said much, finally spoke thus:

        "I am Christian."

        "Yes, we are too," said Hellmantle.

        "You ask about St Thomas?"


        "Saint Thomas made Christian communities here. He baptized the three kings and made them the first bishops."

        "Here in Srinagar?"

        "I believe so. The King back then, Gondophorus, ordered Thomas to build a magnificent palace. But when the king was away, Thomas spent the money on the poor." He looked at Ramazon and then at Hellmantle.

        "St Thomas told King Gondophorus that his palace was already built and waiting in heaven. So Thomas was thrown in prison. But the King had a vision, which changed his mind. He saw Thomas who told him that his treasure awaited him in the afterlife. After that the pagan King was baptized and became a Christian."

        "Do you know where all this happened?"

        "I know where Sao Thome tomb is. Yes."

        "Do you have any bicycles we can borrow?"

        "Yes," replied Ramazon. "We have some bicycles to lend you."



TABLE OF CONTENTS                                                                                  
          The Family of the Bible
1.       Concerning the famous Hellmantle's position, character and way of life
2.       Concerning the ingenious man's visit with his uncle Jack Grosseteste
3.       Which relates to how Hellmantle is given his first adventure
4.       About what happened to our adventurer when he goes to the Philippines
5.       In which the story of our crusader's journey begins in earnest
6.       About Hellmantle's time in the city of sin on Christmas Eve
7.       About the brave Hellmantle's success on his adventure to Baguio City worthy of happy memory
8.       In which the courageous Hellmantle of Normandy journeys north into the Cordillera Mountain Range
9.       About what happened to Hellmantle in the mission in the mountains and the crucifixion of Jesus
10.     Concerning Hellmantle of Normandy in the land of the headhunters
11.     About the required riding techniques to reach the destination of Sagada and the church organist
12.     In which the German artist is tracked to the Shamrock Café and dangers of the northeast of Luzon Island
13.     In which Catharine is tracked to the Shamrock Café and an eery coincidence of a reoccurring dream
14.     About Hellmantle reaching the rice terraces and finding a way to the northwest
15.     About what happened to our intrepid philosopher in the middle of the Sierra Madre Mountains
16.     In which a record is given about the brave Hellmantle through uncharted territory on his trusted dirt bike
17.     Which relates to Hellmantle of Normandy reaching the northern coast and the rubble of Aparri
18.     About the final day of the motorcycle journey and discussing the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel in Vigan
19.     About the sermon in Agoo Basilica and what they find at the church with the rouge bell tower
20.     Concerning the Dutch Padre and what he knows about the hidden map
21.     About the return to Manila and the coup that causes the Great Man from Normandy grief
22.     Which brings Hellmantle of Normandy back to Hong Kong to re-evaluate the next step in his quest for truth
23.     In which their journey is related to Jack Grosseteste and a new task is set before the Man from Normandy
24.     Concerning the journey to northern Vietnam to track down the map hidden at a French prison
25.     About how Hellmantle and D'Aqs compare notes on their task at hand in Hanoi
26.     In which an account is given of the beginning of the journey of Hellmantle in Vietnam
27.     About how Hellmantle and his brave squire ride north to the place where the four rivers meet
28.     Concerning the French prison and what Hellmantle finds there
29.     Concerning the discovery of the bottle and what lies inside of it
30.     Concerning the journey to Dien Bien Phu in honor of their grandfather the Great Dane Hellmantle
31.     About what the motorcyclists see on the fields in Dien Bien Phu
32.     Concerning the motorcycling required to reach Hanoi via the other side of the Da River Valley
33.     Which tells of the final stage back to Hanoi and the discussion after their most beautiful ride
34.     Concerning the visit with the knowledgeable Jack Grosseteste and the sally to India
35.     Concerning the arrival and journey to Kashmir Valley
36.     In which the journey begins in earnest through the checkpoints to the foot of the Moghul Fort
37.     In which Srinagar is reached and how the houseboat was as it was hundred years ago
38.     In which Hellmantle reach their houseboat on the lake below the fort and beside the mosque
39.     In which Hellmantle sets out for the Tomb of Thome and his brother Joshua beside him
40.     Which relates to the agreeable history of the journey north to the monastery on horseback
41.     In which Hellmantle returns to Srinagar and finds the first translations of the black stones
42.     Which concerns the deciphering of the discovery at the monastery and the need to go to the Ganges River
43.     About Hellmantle of Normandy's meeting with the holy man after taking a dip in the Ganges River
44.     About Hellmantle's meeting at Jack Grossetests's place with D'Aqs and Catharine the artist from Sagada
o       Chronology of Historical Events



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