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Chapter Thirty-six 


In which the bus journey begins in earnest through the checkpoints

to the foot of the Moghul Fort

200km north of New Delhi, Himachal Pradesh Province

Sunset fell and the bus stopped at one of the countless outdoor restaurants at the side of the road. Right beside the traffic, these restaurants consisted of a string of tables perpendicular to the road lined with chairs covered with a patio roof on legs of wood. The slow trucks with water, fuel and military supplies to the front lines at the India-Pakistani border pulled over to the side of the road, ate at these restaurants and slept in their own foldout beds in the front seat of their rigs. The kitchen, in the cement box at the back of the building, served the main artery to northwest India. There was an entire road culture that existed here in the mountains because of the war going on in Kashmir. These roadside patios were where these men ate their meals and drank their tea who lived in their trucks to stay warm and to earn a living.

Back on the road the bus drove all night until it reached the Kashmir border. The border guards came onto the bus and looked in bags and then proceeded to untie all the carefully tied up large pieces of luggage on top of the bus. They turned over someone's couch but didn't find any signs of foul play and then left it there for the bus driver to pick up and repack. One gentleman across the aisle had to pay duty on a new CD player.

"I hadn't realized it is a separate entity within India, I mean to this degree," said Hellmantle, shaking his head and the tight security.

"Perhaps its independence as a state reflects the value of its hidden treasures?" Nathan had a mystery to him. Mossad maybe, thought Hellmantle.

"Well it's from the border Britain imposed after they gave India independence. They created Pakistan for all the Muslims in British India and India for the Hindus but for some reason made Kashmir Valley part of India when it was about 85 percent Muslim. Countless millions have been killed since 1965 because of that. And it's one of the world's flashpoints. Nuclear War is a definite possibility between Pakistan and India, who both have the big exploding device. But our Abrahamic family originally came from the Indus Valley thus we speak an Indo-European language. Though it must be said that Abraham was born in Sur in modern-day Iraq."


        "Seriously. Look it up."

        "Anything else?"

        "Well, while we're at it, the Quran was written because Rome fudged the message of Jesus the prophet. It is clearly stated that it is the untainted message from the same Hebrewic God and is the last. Muhammad was a direct descendant of Issac's brother Ishmael so it's all within Abraham's chosen bloodline. Talks about Moses and Jesus and Muhammad as all prophets of the same God. My guess is Jesus' original message would have been the same or pretty darn similar to what's in the Quran."

        "Strange to hear you saying that."


        "Jihad and the killings and whatnot. Not very Holy if you ask me."

        "Bad press. What about all the compassionate and friendly Muslims? The Koran is a beautiful book. You must read it. The Jihad discussed in the mainstream media is hermeneutical extremism. It doesn't mean to kill those who are not yet enlightened. One passage says: ‘Let there be no force or compulsion in religion: Surely- Truth stands out clear from error. Whoever rejects evil and believes in God has held the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks.'" Nathan shook his head as if a fly was buzzing around inside it.


        "I'm surprised you're quoting the Quran, that's all."

"Keep an open mind Nathaniel and see all the references to Moses and Jesus and the chosen family. They urge the Israelites to come back into the fold, saying they understand why we went askew."

        "The House of Israel did but not us." D'Aqs nudged him. Only when he looked in his eyes did he understand why.

        "But back to Kashmir, it really is the cradle of civilization if you omit Sumeria for a moment. The Indus Valley is the breadbasket of the Indo-European family of languages, which of course includes English and French and Spanish and Hebrew, etcetera. But I can't stop lamenting at the loss of opportunity of not motorcycling this geography. Motorcycling in the Himalayas would be very groovy."

"It would be great riding if there weren't any checkpoints," said D'Aqs. "But Pradeep was right. There's no way we could've ridden our bikes up here. Too many guns."

"Yes, there are many fortified lines to cross."

It was cold when they stood outside the bus at a checkpoint. Just behind it was an old castle-fort built of rectangular bricks with a big turret on either side of the entrance. A steel fence protected the narrow passage to the front gate. It was a mysterious old relic.

"It's definitely European built," said Nathan. D'Aqs could smell his breath from five feet away.

"It looks like a Crusader castle," said Hellmantle. "Look at the lines. Look how the stones are cut. It employs sacred geometry that was discovered in 1106 in Jerusalem."

"There's no way to get in. They're using it." Nathan spoke calmly as D'Aqs shivered in three layers of shirts. Nathan was only wearing a yellow T-shirt and shorts. "I've seen one like that in Tel Aviv."

"Now we begin to climb," said a bearded Indian man who was standing among them.

"How much longer from here?" asked Nathan. "Only two or three hours you think?"

"From the India-Kashmir border? No, more. It's four-thirty in the morning and we will be here for an hour." He rubbed his black-bearded chin. "Nine," he said, after thinking. The man with the beard smiled. He was a big man.

"Nine hours!" Nathan was feeling the liquor. "No way. Two." The Indian only smiled at him.

"The road is slow. First time in Kashmir?" D'Aqs and Nathan nodded but Hellmantle kept that card against his chest.

"The journey is 22 hours," said Hellmantle. "I calculate it should be another five hours plus this hour at the border crossing, perhaps six hours."

"Who told you it was 22 hours?" said the Indian. "With the military checkpoints it will be longer." Hearing this, Nathan raised his arms and stretched out his legs all in the same motion.

"The mountains are too big. I should have flown!"




After departing from the castle and guards, they proceeded through a maze of roads and turns and roundabouts for the next fifty miles. Just as the Indian man had said, they began to climb. With each few hours they moved north, the mountains evolved in form and vegetation, from the palm trees to tall pines that stood proud like an army of green-clad soldiers. Dwarfed by massive ridges of rock they followed a river coming from the north, its current swift, monkeys at the roadside in clusters. The military was all over the countryside after the border crossing, with jeeps and sandbagged pillboxes on strategic mountain points. The troops were decentralized by working in twos covering a vast stretch of territory in the beginnings of the valley of Kashmir. Camouflaged and covering countless little stone lookouts were small stone pilings that used the natural jutting shape of the rock to its advantage.

"Without a clear system of road signs and with all the nameless forks in the road, navigation on a motorcycle would have been a crapshoot," Hellmantle finally conceded. After crossing the border he realized that there was no way on earth they could have motorcycled up to Srinagar and back in seven days.


"Preferable vehicle of choice may still be the horse."

Like the monkeys perched on a precipice that fell away like a wall, they could look down from miles above. As they inched closer to Srinagar Hellmantle finally had to ask the question burning in his head:

"How on earth did Thomas and Jesus trek this far, and over this terrain?" D'Aqs was quiet. "Without the British-built bridges and tunnels, how could they journey 2000 years ago from Jerusalem to Srinagar?" The moonlight shined on the mountainsides and kept D'Aqs awake through the night.



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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