Scene: the cottage in the palace gardens, the partially deciphered documents are being discussed; the King arrives wearing his favourite hat. Count Hermann of Munster, Brother James and Georg Cantor are present.
King: Good day gentlemen
Count: Your Majesty, Cantor of the Royal Society has made a breakthrough, thanks to the researches of Brother James. Perhaps Brother James can tell us you some background first ?
Brother James: Yes of course. I have confirmed that the first page shows the symbol of the Order or Sect of the Phoenix. They have been in existence at least since medieval times and possibly are older than that; they are supposed to have been suppressed by the inquisition. The sect's beliefs are somewhat odd and seem to be a blend of alchemy, gnosticism, hindoo tantra; their practices include some form of alchemical technique of sexual ecstacy. There motto loosely translated from the Latin is 'Happy the man who has been able to discover the causes of things'. It is this motto which was the key to unlock some of the text in the documents. Mr Cantor will you continue.
Cantor: I examined the text under the Phoenix device, I tried a reversal of the Alberti Cipher, out came the motto in latin. The next line cameout as 'three times the fool'. The next paragraph didn't translate at all, neither did the next. So I continued to examine the rest of the pages, these consist of a list and nine separate pages in the form of letters. The list page translated into a list of the major cities of Europa, some of these had been crossed out, there were 9 left uncrossed. The rest of the pages had the city on the top, but the reverse cipher did not translate the text of the letters, I assume they have different keys or methods of encryption. The obvious conclusion is that the man in the possession of these papers was a courier.
King: How fascinating, where had he been and what cities were not crossed out ?
Cantor: From the places he had crossed out on the list he had travelled through a numer of countries : Sweden, Germania, Duchy of Stollen, Russia, the Duchy of Grolstein, the Imperium, Saxe-Bearstein, Stagonia and the Duchy of Fenwick. Capitials not crossed out on the list were of: Wittenberg, Monrovia, Noverre, Gallia, Hanover, Holland, Denmark, Brittania and Ireland. There is more of interest, I thought about 'three times a fool', I skipped the first three paragraphs on the phoenix symbol page, the rest of the text translated as follows -
To Whom It may concern,
congratulations on translating the cipher; as you have achieved this we assume you are intelligent and blessed with the faculties of reason. We would like the papers returned as they contain private correspondence of a sensitive nature; if Count Revolvendors is dead then we would also like to obtain his personal belongings. Place an advert in your local paper 'Found - Manuscript titled 'Far Horizons' and contact information - we will respond in due course.
You will be suitably rewarded.
Count: That is not all, there were a set of travel diaries found in the coach. These were meticulaously numbered. There contents were rather indelicate, they read like the journals of a Don Juan. There was one diary missing from the set; diary no 15 finishes on his arrival in Saxe-Bearstein, diary 17 starts in the Duchy of Fenwick. Diary 16 is missing - the last but one place name crossed out in the list translated by Cantor is the capital of Stagonia; it is possible that he was killed for that diary - it probably contains details of some indisgression.
King: Do you think this sect is a front for spies ?
Count: Possibly, if so they have many contacts, and it may be worth being in favour with them; they probably already know we have the papers.
King: How so ?
Count: I've had some strange enquiries over the last week from some of the nobility, asking about rumours about papers and such, nothing direct though. I think we better return the papers don't you your majesty ?
King: Yes I agree. The secrets of secret societies are best left secret. Count, make the necessary arrangements .. Hmm time for afternoon tea, I must change my hat and join my lady wife ... Oh Brother James, walk with me and tell me more about the practices of this Sect of the Pheonix.