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Chapter One 


 

Concerning the famous Hellmantle's position, character and way of life

Lamma Island, Hong Kong, China, November 2001

Extremism in all its forms can always be justified by a partial mind. In Hong Kong, recently designated as Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, lived an unusual man, non-conformist and rebel against mainstream dogma, an expatriate motorcyclist who loved history books and maps. Preferring movement to stagnation and curiosity to indifference, blind spots and lack of gumption were the scourge of humanity, to him an indolence offending his philosophical nature. Phoniness was the bane of man and ultimate embodiment of deception born from lies, a dishonesty of self founded on shifting sands on an unstable underpinning. He believed one should have fidelity to principles, create their own morality discovered through truth and live by a code that embodied nobility and daring. This was Roland Hellmantle of Normandy.

There is some dispute among scholars, and authors of past works written on the subject, that his original surname was Redmantel but had been changed to Hellmantel, but the spelling changed to Hellmantle due to his Norman roots. Suffice to say these events are recorded with objectivity and no trace of hyperbole or subjective license. This is Hellmantle's story.

 

 

He lived on a mountainside above the shores of Aberdeen Channel where the sprawl of Hong Kong Island could be seen from his balcony. In his forties, wrinkled around the eyes, his face bespoke character one might say, lines showing experience and hardship from his inclination for adventure, enough to garner respect but shy to be seen as marks of a sage. Something about his mouth was out of place, a stiffness perhaps or crookedness hidden by a drooping moustache and beard. When not writing for a magazine, Hellmantle spent hours reading history in cafés or hunkered down on Lamma Island, seldom leaving his hideout on the cliff overlooking shipping lanes to the world's busiest port. Religious history mainly, areas that touched on his family history, such as the Holy Grail, the Crusades and the life of Jesus. His interest in these subjects snowballed the deeper he went. Recent discoveries had come to light, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hamadi Scrolls, which included The Gospel of Thomas, which threw Hellmantle into a fever during the summer months. The twelve disciples came alive as the entourage of Jesus the Nazarene, and His original message revealed new information after finding a code, bringing a hidden history to light of events that happened two thousand years ago. His magazine work suffered so he was hired as a freelance writer, the company realizing that it was cheaper. With more free time he read more, his house soon covered with books. His mind grasped new insights, his imagination fueled, and compounded by his anomalous psychological apparatus. Hellmantle's mind was infected by Aspergers Syndrome, skewered, physiologically tweaked which made him semi-autistic, giving him a sharp, high-functioning mind but blinded him to emotions expressed by others but that left him free to embrace ideas on a high level and without fear to pursue his inclinations to extremes.

Once he engaged an interest his Aspergers Syndrome enabled him to engineer his life so that he could dedicate himself to the pursuit without empathy of others, often leading him to dangerous and reckless behavior.

Our story begins with a telephone call from his uncle in Kowloon asking him to dinner. Hellmantle envisioned a grand adventure, sensing his time had come to put his vast knowledge into play, a door opening that would lead him to greatness he always knew he was destined for. His uncle Jack Grosseteste, notorious in his own ways for his fervent interest in the family history of the Hellmantle clan, was a professor of economics but spent his time researching the more esoteric aspects of religious history, staunchly opposed to the interfering hand of Rome, abreast of the prophecies and legends and hidden knowledge of secret societies. From his research Hellmantle had become convinced evidence existed that proved the stories and dogma taught by schoolteachers and priests weren't entirely accurate so that he had made it his personal mission to right this wrong through industry and employing courage to take the step that would lead to a new understanding of the true message of Jesus and the unrecorded events that Rome had suppressed to protect its power over centuries. And to undertake such a mission, he would use all his resources and acumen to set the record straight.

The day came to go to the uncle's for dinner, so he readied his motorcycle kit, taking care to be prepared for any eventuality. The gloves with holes in the fingers had proven effective when riding the mountains of Taiwan years ago, as had his waterproof riding boots during forays into the jungles of Cambodia during the rainy season. His eyepiece scratched but not enough to mar the visual aspect, and helmet like those worn in hockey, a toy unable to protect against head injury, were chosen for their comfort over effectiveness for he insisted on comfort over infringement of his ride. The hat as he called it, epitomized Hellmantle's motorcycle kit, light but enough to avoid ticketing or infractions against his insurance. Boots or Birkenstocks, hat or not hat, non-scratchy scarf and thick leather motorcycle jacket well worn from countless miles of riding, were all selected based on how it enhanced the motorcycle experience. Even his Yamaha FZRR400 motorcycle was extreme, chipped and scraped and engineered for the racetrack, a rocket illegal for the roads of Hong Kong, a vehicle he loved like a man loves his horse. It was common for Aspergers sufferers to give a disproportionate amount of love to inanimate object and Hellmantle was no different. His iron horse was named Sir Thighpiece after Don Quixote's horse, caring for the bike by locking it with three kryptonite locks for added protection so he could sleep at night knowing his loyal servant was safe from theft. Every time he looked at Sir Thighpiece a deep love welled-up in his breast as if there was a great debt owed by him for services rendered.

Once ready to visit his uncle Jack Grosseteste, he spoke thus:

"Perceval, thou hast conquered and art healed. Enter this ship and go wheresoever adventure leads thee. And be not dismayed by anything thou seest, for wherever thou goest God will be thy guide."

How he loved to say these words! It was the first step towards affirming his destiny, and the first pen strokes in the story of his pilgrimage to the cathedral of truth.

  
  

 

Chapter Two 

Concerning the ingenious man's visit with his uncle Jack Grosseteste

פֿ

When he left for Kowloon Tong to visit his uncle, somewhere in his Asperger mind he knew he mission was upon him. After the ferry ride from his house on Lamma Island to Hong Kong Island where he picked up his motorcycle, Hellmantle cruised the south side of the island around the central mountains weaving his way through traffic to Victoria Harbor Tunnel riding under the harbor to Kowloon soon emerging into the thick underbelly of Tsim Sha Tsui. Taking an overpass through the seventh floor of an office building he past the congested shopping Mecca of Mong Kok and entered a long tunnel under Lion Rock Mountain after which the number of cars dwindled. Hellmantle was in the mountains and forests of Hong Kong that no one ever saw, the part where nature still bloomed in full force. During the ride north through the green foliage and valleys his ardent belief in his destiny of greatness so deep, he spoke thus:

"They will speak about me one day in the centuries to come! It will be a story for those brave enough to find meaning in a word! They will find a record, those armchair philosophers with potential of being world leaders who instead have chosen the practiced way of life eating popcorn on their soft couches. The world will have a testament of a life outside of constraints that hinder modern man during the Time of the Great Change. I make no apology for the fundamental extremism of my empirical data because that is the cost of discovering truth!"

So lithe with his tongue the words rolled out of his mouth like rainwater off a petal of the flower.

 

Ω

 

Parking Sir Thighpiece in the quadrangle of the academic compound for professors, Hellmantle walked up the stairs to his uncle's apartment like Homo Robustus. When the door opened he saw before him a white-haired, white-bearded man of noble bearing. Perhaps due to the long time between visits, Jack Grosseteste was dumbstruck at the man in front of him, a look of bewilderment lingering for a moment.

"Good to see you Rolland." Grasping his hand, shaking it in earnest, his nephew looked different, older, somehow taller. Cheeks defined, he had become hardened by life. A scholar with a spiritual cast, he looked possessed, on fire, enlivened by purpose, a clear-eyed confidence born from knowledge. He had changed after his years in the Far East.

"Uncle, your timing could not be better. You call because of the Grail?" Jack Grosseteste's laughter, uneasy at first, tested the waters for his reaction.

"In fact yes, I do." Hellmantle, offended by the laughter because of the divine task before him, an event in history that demanded respect, could let this offence go unaddressed.

"Ignorance is the fundamental cause if disharmony in the world! And the global populace can no longer remain in a state of ignorance! God will open a path for me fraught with obstacles to test my spirit. How I overcome adversity will challenge my belief and determine my fate but I am not a gimcrack! I am a man of my word through action, a seeker who sees life as an unfolding adventure. So! As a loyal member of the Hellmantle clan, I hereby declare my services available for hire." Earnest, and lacking irony, he squinted, looking deep into his uncle's eyes.

Jack Grosseteste, being a practical man who taught for a living, was confident that his nephew was suffering from a similar condition to that of his own father, Thomas Grosseteste. He suspected it was Aspergers that caused this neurosis because he knew the behaviors associated with the Hellmantle and Grosseteste autism gene.

"You might very well be hired Roland." Acknowledge with sincerity for the serious nature of his visit, Hellmantle relaxed.

"Ah! Since you're fond of the grape." Pulling out two bottles of wine for his uncle from his bag, he was happy to have the means to provide him with refreshments for dinner.

"You're a gentleman. Shall we try one?" Hellmantle, in his delusional state, believed his uncle acted as if it was still British Hong Kong despite it being four years since the handover. Colonial Britain in the Far East had changed over the generations evolving from tweed jackets and Oxford wing tips to insulated Gortex windbreakers and desert boots with rubber soles, all made across the border on the mainland.

"Did you know that your cousin D'Aqs is living in TST?"

"D'Aqs Grosseteste?" Surprised. "I thought he was living in Japan."

"No, not Japan. Burma. He's in a residence beside St. Andrew's church close to the harbor."

"No, I didn't know that."   

"Resting after his stint as a missionary in Mandalay, he's been living here for almost six months now. He's on his way over here to have dinner with us."

"Why?" Face showing anxiety at the possible disturbance from their business at hand.

"Because we're discussing some family history. Sorry, perhaps I should have told you."

"I haven't seen him since I was a kid." It was at that moment when the doorbell rang and in walked D'Aqs Grosseteste. Time treated all people differently, but when he saw his cousin, shock replaced the look of determination on Hellmantle's face.

"My God! How long has it been Rolland? Fifteen years?"

"More, I think."

"Good to see you cousin. You look the same as boarding school," D'Aqs said. "Your beard suits you."

"You poor devil! What have you done to yourself? You look a little sallow." Prone to social gaffes and lacking social grace was attributable to Hellmantle's illness. "A tad peeked."

"I'm better than I was," he replied, a bit taken back. Two months ago D'Aqs had been deathly ill, having a bluish-yellow pallor, but he thought he had recovered sufficiently to pass as fit.

"When I arrived in July I was fearing for my life." He assumed Hellmantle had some idea of where he had been through his father.

"And now you're a minister." Distaste oozed, suspicion could not be masked.

"I am, but I'm not preaching this year. I-"

"What denomination please?"

"Anglican."

"Well that's a relief." D'Aqs glanced at his father. "Though if one were to be a minister, Presbyterian would be my choice."

"Good. I wanted to get away from the congested life of the West but I didn't expect such a jungle. Perhaps I should have, but the Burmese are good people and I enjoyed the years I was there."

"That's what it's like over here in Asia, but here in Hong Kong is a little better. But why are you in Hong Kong?"

"Because my father is here and because the Anglican diocese in Tsim Sha Tsui had an open room that they are providing for me. I am recovering from malaria after my posting in Mandalay."

"That's a tough lot. That will stay in your liver for the rest of your life you unfortunate soul! It is a shame about the mosquitoes and the water there." Hellmantle then remembered to shake his hand. "Um, why a minister please?"

"I wanted something different, something meaningful."

"And?"

"What?"

"Is it mraningful?"

"Yes, it can be very meaningful." Hellmantle's expression changed to satisfaction as he looked at the bookshelves. "You look well enough to me Rolland." 

"Indeed I am." D'Aqs wiped his hands on his shorts. "Ah! My hands are still sweating from the motorcycle ride here." He ran his hand through his long hair.

"You ride a motorcycle in Hong Kong?" Noticed his boots.

"I ride a fast motorcycle in Hong Kong. Yes." Pointed at his hat on a chair beside the door.

"That's your motorcycle helmet?"

"Hat, actually."

"That's a pretty risky proposition."

"That's what I said," said his father.

"It is their inability to ride that is the only threat to my life," in a serious tone, motioning to the spaghetti of roadways through the window.

"Do you have a death wish?" his uncle picked up his helmet. Hellmantle pensive, gazing out the window.

"Riding a motorcycle in Hong Kong can be a calming pastime," he said, almost in a whisper. "I am not eager to graduate to the Great Café in the Sky until my work is done." Both Grossetestes laughed. "Besides, it's all right here. Taiwan is the place where it's pretty hairy on the roads. Here in Hong Kong it's like riding on a big go-kart track with no shoulders. But it was the first day that was the toughest. Riding on the left side of the road was an exercise of fighting my reflexes to go the other way. My mantra was: Stay left. Stay left!"

"Just don't get yourself killed," said Jack Grosseteste.

For D'Aqs it was eerie seeing his cousin after so many years. An aspect about him that he could not place, maybe something in his eyes, an intensity that gave him a pang of fear in his gut. Intuition told him that Hellmantle was on edge, like a revved up engine about to overheat.

"It is good that you are both here," said the professor. "There is something from our family in Normandy that has come to me in the mail." He eyed Hellmantle, who looked positively haunted by some Holy Spirit. "But we'll look into this business after dinner. First we eat."

The three of them went into the main room where all Professor Grosseteste's books and encyclopedias lined the walls. It was cold in the library where the air conditioner blasted, one of the many things that Hellmantle could not understand. His shirt wet from his ride, he shivered in the cold air but his uncle and cousin were both reluctant to turn down the air conditioner. He didn't think twice about putting on his motorcycle jacket. For him it was irrational to shiver in discomfort and eat, so he wore it throughout dinner. Every time he brought food to his mouth they could hear the thick leather crinkling, elbow pads built into the leather stretching and bending as he ate. They spoke about family and about the Far East but Hellmantle for the most part was quiet. The only reason he was there was to find out what his task was in order to engage in his first sally.

  
 
 

  

Table of Contents 
  
                
The Family of the Bible
 
FIRST PART - Hong Kong
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
 
SECOND PART - the Philippines
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
 
THIRD PART - Vietnam
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
 
FOURTH PART - India
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
          
Chronology of Historical Events
        
 

 
 
 
 

 
The theme song for this novel is from Johnny Cash:
 
"Your Own Personal Jesus"
 
It sets the tone
 
Headphones are preferable
 
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