There was a strange silence over the meadow.
On any other day, the birds would be chirping a melody to the rise of the golden sun, welcoming a new day with their beautiful, tuneful voices. Today, however, the birds were silent.
It was good, Jack appreciated it.
What true condolences were there when someone dear dies, but silence? No words could heal the burning scar of Death, so why moisten a man's mind with words of hopeless hope and better tomorrows he can't foresee?
Time alone, or nothing, could heal the loss of a loved one.
His uncle, Jacques de Molay, had warned him to flee France some few weeks before the day of his burning had happened. The Assassins in the French government didn't know that Jack was a Templar, and the man had been able to take secret visits to his uncle's prison cell - just to see him, just to listen to his voice. Jack's uncle had been rotting in that prison for nearly seven years, since Europe decided to purge itself of the Templar Knights.
Jack sat back, stroking a fire that no longer needed to burn with a long stick. He sighed and shut his eyes. He missed his uncle, more so now that the man was dead. Jacques had been like a father to him, since his own father had little or nothing to do with Jack in the last thirty years of his existence.
“It feels like yesterday, you told me to leave you,” he murmured to himself, his bright blue eyes searching the flames - as if for an answer or a response. He sighed again, wiping his eyes and running his fingers through his mane of dark hair. He scratched the stubble on his chin and got up, picking up his scuffed pack and walking away from the fire. He walked through the meadow like he had all the time in the world, brushing low branches out of his way and watching every step he took. He kept going until he saw another flickering fire, a dozen men sitting around it, talking in low voices with their heads down.
Ah. The leftovers of the great Templar Knights.
“Jack!” said one man on seeing him. He was tall and broad, and took long strides as he made his way to Jack. The man smiled at him - a big happier-than-happy smile - and grasped Jack's shoulder amiably, “Finally decided to join us, have you?” he spoke with a thick Scottish accent.
Jack looked at the man - who loomed over him, tall as he was - looked at the shining green eyes and the gleaming golden hair and the big smiling mouth: and Jack found it in him somewhere to smile just a little, “Is there any more news, William? Of my uncle? Of the Templars?”
“Your uncle's dead, that much is clear. Some say that he cursed King Phillip and the Pope. His ashes were collected by people, as relics,” William said, leading Jack to the fire, “And the Templars... Well, some are here, others have gone to Switzerland or Portugal.”
Jack sat by the fire and accepted a drink that was passed to him. He rubbed his arms to fend off the cold, “What now?”
“Well,” said a man named Gilbert sitting opposite to him, “We wait, for all of this nonsense to die down. It won't last forever.”
“Just hide?” Jack asked.
“Well, yes,” William said.
“We can't do that,” Jack said.
The men looked up at him, then at each other.
“My uncle died for this,” Jack expressed, shaking his tankard of drink, “is that going to be in vain?”
“Your uncle was the man who doomed us in the first place,” Gilbert pointed out, “Him and de Charney. Have you forgotten that?”
“My uncle worked tirelessly for this Order!” Jack said, red spreading across his face, “and he makes one mistake and suddenly all of that is just forgotten?” Jack looked at each man, “We don't serve my uncle. We serve a higher purpose, we serve humanity, we serve direction, purpose and order,” he pointed in a direction, “Those bloodthirsty anarchists are out there, sowing and growing their Assassin ideas in the minds of powerful men - and you want to hide and wait? For what exactly? For them to come and slaughter you?”
William spoke, “Then what do you propose we do, Jack? There isn't anything left.”
“We need to rebuild, establish the Templar Order here. We need to win favour with the Scottish people, find new recruits, but also...” he paused a moment to phrase his words correctly. Templars were monks in armour, pious warriors. They had been for generations. How was this going to sound right in any wording? “We need to build a legacy. Not only in our converts and new recruits, but in our progeny.”
The men around him looked aghast.
“I know. I know,” Jack said, “But our work is too great to focus on... spreading our message. We need Templar wives, Templar children. Templar women, little Templar boys and little Templar girls. We need to grow strong again.”
Argument broke out among them, like water through a cracked dam. Jack just sat back and watched them, listening to each man's argument.
How could he even suggest they break the tenet of celibacy?
Had the Devil clouded his mind?
Had his grief driven him insane?
Jack knew this would be their response. He had expected it.
When they quietened down, he said, “It's better than sitting around and waiting.”
There was a long pause.
William stood up, “I hate to say it, but Grand-Master Jack Molay is right.”
Jack raised his brows. This, he had not expected, “What did you call me?”
“A Templar doesn't wait, he takes charge. Does what needs to be done, says what needs to be said,” William explained, “You are our Master.”
“No,” Jack shook his head, “No. I can't-”
“You said you didn't want to wait. You said you wanted to rebuild what we've lost.”
“Then may the Father of Understanding guide you, and us.”