What if the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table were as much fact as legend? If Ashley and Kinga can find Arthur’s famed sword, Excalibur, they may be able to find the answer to that question.
Most kings were buried with their swords, so Kinga and Ashley explore caves in Shropshire, England, that they believe might be Arthur’s final resting place. Though they find no tomb for Arthur, they find a representation of Richard Lionheart, who is said to have given a single sword to King Tancred of Sicily in return for an entire army. They search Tancred’s palace in Palermo and find many encouraging clues, including an image of the Virgin Mary with Jesus in front of a cave with a sword.
Following the sacred lines of the Knights Templar who built the palace, they head northeast to Ostuni Cathedral in Italy. Ashley explores the catacombs beneath, searching even the tiniest caverns, but finds no sword. His next hunch takes the team to the Templar Commanderie in northern France, a place that could’ve been a stronghold for the protection of the sword.
When speaking to Dennis Sersin, the Templar historian of the Commanderie, he tells them that a 6th Century sword was found at the Commanderie, but it is now in the vaults of the British Museum.
After speaking to the Museum staff, Ashley and Kinga are able to examine the sword for any clues, but the sword is a mere shadow, a rusted fragment with no hilt and no visible symbols. But Ashley’s expert eyes see that this sword was broken in two, and repaired - just as Excalibur was said to have been severed and repaired by Merlin. It’s a bold claim, but Ashley believes it just might be the clue that links this artifact to the legend of Arthur.
On the other side of the world, the Tibetan Buddhists tell of a stone that dropped from the sky and is said to have the power to grant any wish. Wary of this power, the Buddhists hid the Cintamani Stone in the city of Shambala, but the city’s whereabouts are unknown. Ashley puts together two clues: first, Shambala was said to be a tropical paradise; second, a Russian explorer was preparing an expedition to the Philippines to find the stone just before he died. Ashley picks up the late explorer’s trail and heads to Buruwesian Falls in the Philippines.
The legend tells of the stone being protected by water, so when Ashley comes to the falls, he rappels against the cliff in an attempt to get behind the falls. When that fails, he and Kinga explore the lagoon below, but to no avail. Their next strategy is to look for a sacred cave. There, they find a coffin with a gecko carved onto it - a symbol for fiery wind. This must refer to the lake in the crater of the nearby Taal Volcano. Sure enough, when they view it from above, it looks like the mandala symbol of Shambala: a circle within a circle within a circle, with a square - in the real world, an island - in the center.
After measuring the topography of the lake bottom, they find a rise and drop that could be a city. Ashley dives down, but the forests of kelp and lake weeds make vision impossible. If Shambala is here, it will remain protected for a very long time.
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