Paul Christopher

Red Templar

“There is no proletarian, not even a Communist, movement that has not operated in the interests of money, in the direction indicated by money, and for the time being permitted by money-and that without the idealists among its leaders having the slightest suspicion of the fact.”

— Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West

“Man has an invincible inclination to allow himself to be deceived.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche, “On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense”

“La mediocridad se impone.”

— Fermina Alfonso, Cantante de Opera Cubana


The bearded man stumbled out of the kitchen entrance of the enormous house, blood and vomit streaming from his open, gasping mouth. The snow was blinding and he beat at it furiously, desperately trying to see where he was going. The pain in his upper back was excruciating, and his right ear had been torn to shreds by Felix’s second shot. The bearded man brushed a bloody hand across his face. His eyes were almost swollen shut from the beating he’d taken, but if he could only make it home, home to his little girl, Maria, he would be all right.

He heard muffled footsteps in the snow behind him, the footsteps of a running man. It had to be Rayner, Felix’s sodomite friend from Oxford. Despite the awful pain welling up in his stomach and the blood draining from the stab wounds in his back, the bearded man increased his pace, his heaving lungs on fire, his bleary eyes searching for the steps that led down to the frozen canal. If he could cross to the other side he could disappear into the maze of streets and alleys and, if he was very lucky, reach safety.

He gritted his broken teeth and forced himself onward through the blizzard, silently cursing the cowards who would so savagely attack a man of God. He had never wanted anything more than to bring his knowledge and his powers to the world, but to them he was a danger: light to their darkness, good to their whispered evil, courage to their cowardice.

Somehow he managed to find the steps and staggered downward, his left hand gripping the cold metal railing. He risked a quick look back over his shoulder. There was no sign of Felix or his foppish, smooth-faced friend. His heart beat faster. There was hope! Of course there was hope, for wasn’t he one of the chosen of God, with nothing less than the healing faith of the Xristos coursing through his hands? He had brought a sick and dying prince back to his mother’s arms; there must be hope for him as well. Certainly Saint Seraphim would not abandon him now.

The bearded man reached the ice of the canal, then slipped and slid toward the bridge two hundred yards away, where he knew there was another set of steps. There would be lamplight on the bridge and perhaps even a policeman. Here and there the ice was black and thin, cracking beneath his feet. He skirted those areas, his eyes on the snow-shrouded span of the bridge.

The bearded man reached into the pocket of his dark, heavy coat and felt the heavy oval object deep in the fleece lining. . This, at least, he could keep from them, their foul crucible, their blasphemous secret. Such things were monumentally dangerous and could change the world if revealed by those without the understanding to deal with them. The proverb learned by the bearded man from his friend Spiridon Ivanovich still held true: “For upright men there are no laws,” and if he was nothing else in this frozen hell of a city on the edge of the world, he was an upright man.

The terrible pain deep within his chest caught him by surprise. He stopped dead in his tracks and stared downward. There had already been bloodstains on his white cotton shirt from the beating and the stabbing, but this was something else. This was blood from a spigot splattering out in thick, gouting splashes, deep red heart’s blood.

The bearded man looked up. Across a narrow patch of dark, thin ice he could see a figure with a large pistol in his hand. The man was slender, with a tweed overcoat over his uniform. Oswald Rayner, George Buchanan’s man from the old Saltykov mansion on the Neva.

“ You’ve killed me!” said the bearded man, his accent that of a peasant. He fell to his knees, his hands cupping the blood still streaming from his chest.

'No” said Rayner. “Not yet I haven’t.” He raised the big Webley again, aimed it at the bearded man’s face and pulled the trigger. A large circular hole was punched in the man’s forehead and the back of his head turned into a fountain of blood, bone and brains spraying back for several yards along the ice-covered canal. “Now I’ve killed you,” said the young lieutenant. He stuffed the Webley back into the pocket of his overcoat. The body of the bearded man sagged forward and then struck the ice. The ice cracked and then broke under the weight of the body. The remains of the bearded man slid instantly into the black, freezing water. The Mad Monk was gone at last.

Grigori Rasputin was dead, taking his secrets with him.


Lieutenant Colonel John Holliday (U.S. Army Rangers, retired) had spent half a lifetime in the military and had flown millions of miles in various airplanes without the slightest fear for his own safety. But now as he rode along in a Tupolev 154 airliner he was suddenly aware of the craft’s appalling crash record, not to mention its NATO designation: Careless.

“Why did we have to take this particular flight, Eddie?” Holliday asked his companion. Eddie, whose full name was Edimburgo Vladimir Cabrera Alfonso, was an expatriate Cuban who had saved Holliday’s life recently in the middle of an African revolution. The man was now accompanying him to Turkey, and perhaps on to Russia. They traveled at the request of a man named Victor Genrikhovich, who’d buttonholed them in the Khartoum International Airport. Genrikhovich, who only spoke Russian, looked like someone who’d just walked out of a Bowery flophouse, and claimed he was a curator at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

Under most circumstances Holliday would have smiled, given the man a dollar and gone on his way, but this Bowery bum knew the name Helder Rodrigues and the Latin term Ferrum Polaris. Either the name or the Latin would have stopped Holliday in his tracks; both together were enough to get him onto a plane bound for Istanbul, even a decrepit old Soviet model belonging to a company called Assos Airways.

“Senor Genrikhovich said it would get us to Istanbul the most quickly,” answered Eddie. The Cuban had been born barely a year after Fidel made his triumphant entrance into Havana in 1959, and spoke fluent Russian. He

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