Horror On The Orient Express
The Devil's Simulare
“Thus it can be seen that human evil was not at the heart of the Sack of Constantinople in 1204 but foul and monstrous devilry. That excellent knight, soon to be Emperor of the Latin Empire, Count Baldwin, did note this and sent his best knights and servants forth. They uncovered a foul plot to bring the iniquities of Satan upon the Crusaders and Greeks alike at whose heart lay a debased Turk Sedefkar and his Satanic implements."
An illuminated manuscript written in Latin by an anonymous Cistercian monk probably around 1260 and based on earlier material by monks who were in Constantinople following 1204. The material was taken to Venice when the Venetian crusaders departed there. It was bound into a single volume in 1505 by an Italian craftsman.
The volume tells a continuous narrative concerning the Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople with digressions stressing moral and theological lessons. Beautiful illuminations accompany the work, including medieval depictions of a curved scimitar with a serpent’s head as the pommel, and an image of the Anti-Christ wearing a suit of armor which seems to have two faces, one looking forwards and one looking back. Rituals for summoning Satan into this armor are only a small part of the test. Some believe that these were only added during the 16th century binding.
The bookbinder created one copy of the manuscript, when ended up the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, IT was stolen on January 6th, 1922. Prof. Brice Clavet, a high placed scholar at the library, smuggled it out to pay off, according to police, debts owed to a Middle Eastern drug cartel. The criminals were apparently not satisfied with this offer, since Clavet was founded murdered, the skin flayed from his body. No trace of the book has been found.
The following comments were written by an unknown hand in the margins sometime after the book was completed.
“As was told, the Saracen has come with fire for our destruction. That is always his way, as he has done so in the past and doubtless will again in the future. But we are prepared. All the relics and lore in our care have been moved elsewhere. The Sisters of St. Agatha promise to give us shelter. Their vows forbid them from even righteous violence, but they are sympathetic to our cause.
“I only regret I have not completed by study of this book. For 50 years it has sat untouched, even my sisters fearing it. I could not let it lie, its secrets unknown. I do not like the tales of the walking statue in the Carpathians, or the skinned and bloodless corpses left in its wake. Should we of the Order ever be called to fight the Simulacrum, we must know all we can.
“Mother Tomasina insists this book is but lies and witchcraft. If it is the Lord’s will, after the current crisis has passed, I may return to my studies. I go now to my prayers, my armor, and my sword to do as our Order has always done through the ages. And should this be our final battle, the Sleeping Sister shall know the sign, and the Order shall arise again.”
The only remaining copy is recorded as being at the Church of San Maria Celeste in Venice, though that Church was burned in the 16th Century. The book appears to have then been lost in the archives of the Biblioteca Marciana, until it was recently sold to a collector.