Since Revolution was first formed in 1990, we’ve strived to transport fans of our games to locations across the globe – from Paris to Rome, Cairo to the Caribbean, and even a dystopian near-future city (that some claim bears a similarity to Sydney).
As Charles and the team began to research Broken Sword, the secrets of the Knights’ Templar and the mysteries of the Aztec, the internet was in its infancy, and not as mainstream or as accessible as it is now. In order to fully investigate the locations and the tales we hoped to bring to life on-screen, the only option was to fully immerse ourselves – putting together George and Nico’s stories would mean lots of adventures of our own; travelling to obscure French towns in search for sources; navigating catacombs to inspire our mise-en-scene.
Even though the internet has since made the world a little easier to research, making it possible to find facts and images of the most remote locations on earth with just a click of a button, our spirit of adventure has not dimmed one bit. Indeed, this summer Charles (after a hearty dinner with film director Richard Stanely), found himself on a new odyssey, travailing unfamiliar paths once again.
Here, in his own words, Charles regales us with the details of his most recent travels:
I have pilgrimaged to Montségur, scene of the massacre of the Cathars in 1244, a dozen times over the past twenty years. More recently, I have had the pleasure of meeting and exploring the region with my friend Richard Stanley, film producer and cognoscenti of all things Cathar in the region, who lives in the village.
Some time ago Richard told me about the Étang du Diable, the Devil’s Lake which is shrouded in Cathar mythology. Last week I had the opportunity to climb up to the lake with a dear school friend, Henry Slack – my opportunity, finally, to visit this mystical place.
Henry and I set out from Montségur at mid morning along the Tour du Massif de Tabe. The last time either of us had camped was almost 40 years ago when we were at school. Our objective was to camp by the Devil’s Lake that evening, and then climb the peak of Saint-Barthélemy. We were carrying ludicrously heavy rucksacks: I had a 3 litre wine box (with funky plastic wine glasses), tins of cassoulet, and various (heavy) gastronomic assortments. We walked through beautiful woodland, eventually emerging into open meadows, dotted with bulbous plants which had been rutted by wild boar. That afternoon we decided to stop early having got slightly lost and come to a flat area which was perfect to pitch our tent. Henry cooked excellent sausisson on a stone-lined open fire that we made – he really is the ideal camping partner.
The next morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we climbed the short distance to the Devil’s Lake. We came over a ridge, and found ourselves looking down at the most beautiful lake with crystal clear waters. According to Richard, it was on the banks of this lake that the SS Grail-hunter, Otto Rahn, claimed to have first met the shepherd who told him about the high priestess Esclarmonde; about the Grail – the crown of Lucifer which smashed as he fell to earth after being cast out of heaven; and that this was a place of worship for the Cathar Perfecti. Others claim that those escaping the siege of Montégur threw their fabled secret into the waters for safety. Cast a stone into the lake, and a terrible storm will rage in the valley below, apparently.
There was still snow at this height but the water was not too cold to swim. We reluctantly left this magical place, and continued to climb reaching the Pic de Saint-Barthélemy (7,700ft) by 4pm, and then turned north-east to traverse the ridge. Finding no streams, we regularly stopped to top up our water bottles with snow – and Henry took each opportunity to smoke a roll-up. As we considered our camping options, the cloud suddenly started to rise – first drifting wisps, then it rushed terrifyingly up the mountainside, quickly enveloping us. We continued, semi-blind, across the rocky ridges. By 9pm we had still not found any fresh water, although we were by now soaked to the skin – nor was there an appropriate place to pitch our tent. We started to descend, and found ourselves in a misty, fairy tale forest. Then, suddenly, my iPhone pinged to indicate that it had connected to the internet. Googlemaps showed that Montségur was just another 90 minutes walk – we decided that dinner and a warm bed was a much more attractive prospect than a sodden night in a tent. Thirsty, wet, cold and exhausted we eventually staggered back into Montségur.
Thankfully Couquet Hotel, where we had stayed the first night, had rooms available. In the ‘30s, Otto Rahn had lodged here whilst, on the orders of Heinrich Himmler, he was exploring the area in search of the Grail. Mme. Couquet, who claims that she remembers Rahn staying when she was young, rustled up delicious sanglier stew with potatoes for which we were enormously grateful.
Half the wine, and two tins of cassoulet went up the Pic de Saint-Barthélemy and came back down again. We decided that next time we will be more strategic on what provisions we carry.
A fantastic few days with thanks, again, to Richard for so generously inspiring me with the history and legends of this extraordinary place.