Simon Le Noir stood defiant as a minor official read the charges. They had taken his armor and sword away, leaving him in drab peasant rags as serfs stacked wood at his feet. Even his beloved horse, France’s king had prevailed upon The Pope to brand him and his fellow Templars as heretics and had chosen to burn them at the stake. Heresy, he spat. The King had eagerly taken loans to fund his war against the Arabs and now that it was time to repay them, he had reneged. Oh, if only I had my sword, he thought. Phillip the Fair indeed.
His group, 30 strong, were brought to the public executions in Paris, where a festive atmosphere had settled over the proceedings. A sympathetic guard had allowed him to secrete four small bags of herbs that he explained would cleanse his soul as it departed for the afterlife. At least, that was the story he stuck with as his bonds were tightened around his wrists and feet. He had cut his dark hair short and trimmed his beard in preparation.
A cardinal, wearing his finest clerical robe, made his way down the line of prisoners. At each stop, he asked each condemned man if he wished to renounce his Templar Oath and beg forgiveness. To their credit, his offer was not accepted. Le Noir was the last in line.
“Simon Le Noir, former Marquis of Saint Lazane, do you wish to renounce your heresy and beg forgiveness for your crimes? The King has offered a full pardon and release into exile if you accept. How plead you?”
Le Noir looked down at the cardinal. “Where my brothers lead, I shall follow. The King will get no satisfaction from me this day.”
“As you wish.” The Cardinal made a hand gesture and torches were laid to the wood piles. Rain clouds formed overhead, but even their gentle downpour did little to stem the hungry flames as they feasted.
Le Noir felt his clothes catch fire, then the pouches tied around his waist. As their contents were consumed by the fire, the smoke that arose took on a blue and white color. He struggled against screaming as he heard and felt his flesh sizzle. The smoke thickened around him and he felt his bonds loosen. As the last bond fell away, he felt hands pull him backward as chaos fell upon the ceremony. The rough floor of a wagon met his back and a pair of horse whinnies signaled the escape.
“We are taking you to a ship that will get you to safety, My Liege.” A voice whispered. “We will go on.”