As he boards his flight, Ben clutches the tattered old notebook he found under the floorboards of his grandfather's home among the contents of an old WW2 ammo box marked “Barking Berny.”
Ben misses Bernard dearly, but he hopes that he can uncover what his grandfather did not. He plans to use what is left of his £20,000 inheritance to finish Bernard's wartime work, work which he wasn’t even sure was real.
All he had were the tales of Bernard's time in the war as well as the inane scribblings in his notebook, stories of an ancient order that Bernard supposedly belonged toー“Deorum Custodes Thesaurorum,” or the guardians of the treasures of the gods.
As he rode a taxi from the airport, Ben spoke with the driver in the little French he knew, using a phrasebook he picked up at the airport. “Comment tu t’appelles,” asked Ben stutteringly.
“My name is Emmanuel, but you can call me Manny,” replied the driver.
Ben was relieved that Manny spoke English. They chatted for a few minutes about Caen, and then Ben enquired about its wartime history. Nearing the end of his ride, Manny gave Ben his number. “Check out the Memorial Museum to learn more about the war effort here,” added Manny.
After resting the night, Ben visits a local care home, reasoning that the residents are the most likely to know about wartime.
Ben notices a quiet old man looking out of the window, seemingly pondering his life. Ben approaches him. “Bonjour,” Ben says warmly, “Je m’appelle Ben, et vous?”
“Reynaud,” replies the man in an inviting tone. Ben has the nurse translate his questions, Reynaud is happy to share.
Ben then proceeds to show Reynaud the drawing of the symbols in the notebook. Reynauds face turns upside down as a look of terror floods into his eyes. He shakes uncontrollably. “Partez maintenant!” he screams.
With a look of surprise on her face, the nurse gestures Ben towards the door, “he wants you to leave,” she says. “This is unlike Reynaud.”
As Ben leaves, Reynaud is in a frenzy as the other nurses try to temper his rage. “Peur de l'inconnu sous tes pieds, garçon!" Reynaud bellows. Ben looks at the nurse confusedly,
“Fear the unknown beneath your feet, boy,” she translates.
The next day, Ben takes a trip to the Memorial Museum. He meanders around for a while before coming across an image captioned “148th regiment of Royal Armoured Corps - The Battle for Caen.” Realising that this was Bernard's regiment, he scans the photo for his familiar face.
There he was, Bernard and his squad, stood steadfast with a pained grimace. Ben noticed a strange insignia on the uniform of Bernard and five of his squad, a symbol that none of the other soldiers bore, a symbol from Bernard’s notebook. The symbol of “Deorum Custodes Thesaurorum.”
It was real.
A tear rolled down Ben's face as he reached out to touch the photograph. “Excuse moi, monsieur!” A voice bellowed behind him. Ben spun around jarringly, ripped from his moment of remembrance. It was a museum official. “Please do not touch the displays,” he said, changing from French to English.
“I’m sorry,” murmured Ben. “It’s just that this is my grandfather,” gesturing towards Bernard, “and he recently passed away,” continued Ben as he exhaled woefully.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” offered the custodian apologetically, “my name is Daxton,” he said, a look of realisation in his eyes.
Ben asks if he recognises any of the markings in the notebook. Daxton seems intrigued by them. “I’ve seen them before,” replies Daxton in a grave tone. “Join me in my office,” he asks Ben as he gestures towards a back room.
Daxton explains the mystery of these markings, saying that they are very ancient, predating even the Egyptians. “Why don’t you stay with me and let me help you on your search,” Daxton blurts out, a hint of mystery in his voice.
Unsure about Daxtons intentions, Ben reluctantly accepts his offer, recognising the benefit that having a historian on his journey will bring.
A day later, Ben revisits the care home to check in on Reynaud. Ben finds that Reynaud has passed. “He died in his sleep,” the nurse adds lamentably. “He was acting strangely towards the end,” and he left an odd note,” she continued.
He looks over the note and back at the nurse. She begins, “many were the horrors of war, but none more so than what we found that day in the depths of the Church, for it must stay there forevermore.” Ben felt that Reynaud left this message solely for him. He couldn’t help but feel responsible for Reynaud’s death.
Ben returns to Daxtons home, shaken. Poring over the notebook late into the night, he remembers the passage about the relic being underneath a church near to the “Edifice of the Norman Vanquisher.” Looking at the maps of Caen, Ben deducts that this must be Old St. Stephen's Church just across from L'Abbaye-aux-Hommes, built by William the Conqueror.
As the night moves on, Ben feels uneasy. He peeks through the curtains and sees a dark saloon car with a fellow in the driver's seat. Ben sees Daxton exit the passengers' side and waves the driver away, clutching a handful of documents.
Ben is curious. He pulls out his camera to try and catch a glimpse of the license plate when he notices a strange symbol on the plate. It’s the same insignia from Bernard's uniform, the emblem of Deorum Custodes Thesaurorum.
As Daxton sleeps, Ben tries to find the documents that he brought inside. Unable to find them, Ben grows frustrated. He confronts Daxton. “You better tell me what’s going on,” he demands, stomping into Daxtons office. “What are you talking about?” asks Daxton.
“I saw you leave that car last night, and I saw the symbol on the plate. Start talking!” Ben exclaims as he grows more agitated. “OK, I guess I should tell you,” says Daxton, seeming somewhat relieved.
“I am a member of your grandfather's order,” revealed Daxton. “We span the globe looking for objects from what we call the Porosi, an ancient race of highly-advanced beings believed to exist nearly four million years ago,” Ben is baffled.
“We believe that there is a sepulchre of one of their kind right here in Caen, and we weren’t sure of its exact location until now,” revealed Daxton, peering over at Ben. “Your findings have helped us to pinpoint the location to…”
“Old St. Stephens Church,” Ben interjected. Daxton nods in confirmation.
“We’re going to need some help,” says Daxton as he picks up his phone and makes some calls. Ben and Daxton spend the rest of the day speaking about the secret order that Bernard belonged to and their mission to retrieve ancient artefacts. It boggled Bens mind, but he was happy that he now knew the truth about his grandfather.
The next day, five more members of the order arrived at Daxtons home. Ben was introduced to them, each having individual skill sets that would aid in their expedition.
As the crew of seven make their way to the church, Ben notices a construction site around it. “Looks like they’re doing some work on the church,” Ben surmises.
“That’s for our expedition,” replies Daxton, “we needed a cover, so I pulled some strings.”
As he proceeds into the church, notebook at hand, Ben examines the maps. He enters the basement. There are no apparent openings, but with the help of the notebook, he locates a secret passage that has been covered by overgrowth.
Moving into the passage with his team in tow, they discover an underground Nazi shelter, a staging area for further excavation. It seems as though attempts have been made to bury the shelter with explosives, but there are still small openings leading further down into the earth.
As the order descends further into ancient passageways and tunnels, they see strange markings on the walls that correlate with some of the symbols in Bernard’s notebook. After what feels like hours of navigating winding pathways, they enter a wide-open space, a grand chamber.
The chamber is huge, reminiscent of Egyptian tombs and Gothic churches. The walls are adorned with strange depictions of giant humanoid beings that Daxton remarks must be the Porosi. It seems as though there are also charts of neighbouring star systems, probably the home systems of these ancient, mysterious beings.
One of the team members studies the markings in great detail, “these markings are the language of the Porosi,” she says, “we understand little about their language, but it seems similar to Egyptian hieroglyphics.”
Although there are plenty of treasures scattered throughout the chamber, the team fixate on a monolithic sarcophagus in the centre of the great hall. The rock has been cut with incredible precision, as smooth as glass and covered in markings of the Porosi.
It is then that Ben starts to examine the dimly lit ground, which is littered with ash and dust, but, more disturbingly, the old WW2 uniforms of both Nazis and Allied forces alike. There are no bones or signs of bodies at all, seemingly vaporised by an unknown force.
The team slowly tilt their heads up towards the towering ceiling to see huge crystals embedded into it. A look of dread fills the faces of the order. “Nobody touch the sarcophagus!” yells Daxton. The rest of the team freeze in fear.
Daxton informs Ben of “The Mortis Lux,” or The Light of Death, an ancient energy weapon documented in the old manuscripts of the order. “Specific tonal frequencies activate it,” Daxton murmurs.
“Voice commands?” another member enquires.
“Yes, Jessica, I think so,” Daxton replies. Luckily for the team, Jessica is a linguist and has long studied the now-dead language of the Porosi. “It probably relates to the markings on the sarcophagus,” she points out.
Some time passes as the order members huddle around, flashlights in hand, to decipher the script on the perfectly preserved stone. Jessica begins to recite what she has found, hoping and praying that she is correct in fear of ending up just like those poor soldiers.
The great chamber begins to hum as the crystals above them begin to light up, illuminating the room. Fearing for their lives, the team darts for the exit, unsure what will happen next. Earth begins to shift around the sarcophagus. Light from the crystal pierces the edges of the monolithic lid as it moves.
Dumbfounded, the team waits in anticipation, as though they are awaiting a mummy to pop out of the monolith like something from Scooby-Doo. Nothing happens, the movement of the slab ceases.
Edging towards the chamber’s centre, the order realises that there is no body of any kind in there but instead a large, gleaming black slab. As the light from the crystals illuminates the slab, indecipherable text scrolls at lightning speeds, similar to what is seen when running programs on old computers.
Looking at each other with glee, the order begins to embrace one another. Ben is none the wiser. “Excuse us,” Daxton apologises, tears of joy in his eyes. “This is a Lapis Sapientiae, or a Stone of Wisdom,” Daxton says to Ben. Daxton goes on to explain that “although we have heard many mentions of such a stone, we have never found one.”
“Lapis Sapientiae are believed to contain immeasurable wisdom,” Daxton continues, “it’s a meteoric stone that stores information, much like a computer does, only on a quantum level, ”Ben is perplexed.
“It works by revealing information when under a certain frequency of light, as you have seen from the Mortis Lux, which we always presumed to be a weapon, but now we realise that it is much more,” Daxton says.
“Another way that this information can be accessed is by those who are direct descendants of the Porosi,” Daxton continues as he and the order begin to stare at Ben. “Much like your grandfather,” Daxton remarks. “And much like yourself,” he finishes. “That’s why we’re glad to have found you, Ben.”
Ben is shocked to his core. He can’t believe what he is hearing. “It’s time to fulfil your destiny.”