pilot to perform one highly irregular maneuver.
The Hawker is on final approach.
Simon EdwardsExecutive Services Officer at Biggin Hill
Airportpaced the control tower,
squinting nervously at the rain-drenched runway. He never
appreciated being awoken
early on a Saturday morning, but it was particularly distasteful that
he had been called in
to oversee the arrest of one of his most lucrative clients. Sir Leigh
Teabing paid Biggin
Hill not only for a private hangar but a "per landing fee" for his
frequent arrivals and
departures. Usually, the airfield had advance warning of his
schedule and was able to
follow a strict protocol for his arrival. Teabing liked things just so.
Jaguar stretch limousine that he kept in his hangar was to be fully
gassed, polished, and
the day's London Times laid out on the back seat. A customs official
was to be waiting
for the plane at the hangar to expedite the mandatory
documentation and luggage check.
Occasionally, customs agents accepted large tips from Teabing in
exchange for turning a
blind eye to the transport of harmless organicsmostly luxury
foodsFrench escargots, a
particularly ripe unprocessed Roquefort, certain fruits. Many
customs laws were absurd,
anyway, and if Biggin Hill didn't accommodate its clients, certainly
would. Teabing was provided with what he wanted here at Biggin Hill,
employees reaped the benefits.
Edwards's nerves felt frayed now as he watched the jet coming in.
He wondered if
Teabing's penchant for spreading the wealth had gotten him in
trouble somehow; the
French authorities seemed very intent on containing him. Edwards
had not yet been told
what the charges were, but they were obviously serious. At the
French authorities' request,
Kent police had ordered the Biggin Hill air traffic controller to
radio the Hawker's pilot
and order him directly to the terminal rather than to the client's
hangar. The pilot had
agreed, apparently believing the far-fetched story of a gas leak.
Though the British police did not generally carry weapons, the
gravity of the situation
had brought out an armed response team. Now, eight policemen with
handguns stood just
inside the terminal building, awaiting the moment when the plane's
down. The instant this happened, a runway attendant would place
safety wedges under
the tires so the plane could no longer move. Then the police would
step into view and
hold the occupants at bay until the French police arrived to handle
The Hawker was low in the sky now, skimming the treetops to their
right. Simon Edwards went downstairs to watch the landing from
tarmac level. The Kent police were poised, just out of sight, and the
maintenance man waited with his wedges. Out on the runway, the
Hawker's nose tipped up, and the tires touched down in a puff of
smoke. The plane settled in for deceleration, streaking from right
to left in front of the terminal, its white hull glistening in the wet
weather. But rather than braking and turning into the terminal, the
jet coasted calmly past the access lane and continued on toward
Teabing's hangar in the distance. All the police spun and stared at
Edwards. "I thought you said the pilot agreed to come to the
terminal!" Edwards was bewildered. "He did!" Seconds later,
Edwards found himself wedged in a police car racing across the
tarmac toward the distant hangar. The convoy of police was still a
good five hundred yards away as Teabing's Hawker taxied calmly
into the private hangar and disappeared. When the cars finally
arrived and skidded to a stop outside the gaping hangar door, the
police poured out, guns drawn. Edwards jumped out too. The noise
was deafening. The Hawker's engines were still roaring as the jet
finished its usual rotation inside the hangar, positioning itself nose-
out in preparation for later departure. As the plane completed its
180-degree turn and rolled toward the front of the hangar, Edwards
could see the pilot's face, which understandably looked surprised
and fearful to see the barricade of police cars. The pilot brought
the plane to a final stop, and powered down the engines. The police
streamed in, taking up positions around the jet. Edwards joined the
Kent chief inspector, who moved warily toward the hatch. After
several seconds, the fuselage door popped open. Leigh Teabing
appeared in the doorway as the plane's electronic stairs smoothly
dropped down. As he gazed out at the sea of weapons aimed at him,
he propped himself on his crutches and scratched his head. "Simon,
did I win the policemen's lottery while I was away?" He sounded
more bewildered than concerned. Simon Edwards stepped forward,
swallowing the frog in his throat. "Good morning, sir. I apologize for
the confusion. We've had a gas leak and your pilot said he was
coming to the terminal." "Yes, yes, well, I told him to come here
instead. I'm late for an appointment. I pay for this hangar, and this
rubbish about avoiding a gas leak sounded overcautious." "I'm afraid
your arrival has taken us a bit off guard, sir." "I know. I'm off my
schedule, I am. Between you and me, the new medication gives me
the tinkles. Thought I'd come over for a tune-up." The policemen all
exchanged looks. Edwards winced. "Very good, sir." "Sir," the Kent
chief inspector said, stepping forward. "I need to ask you to stay
onboard for another half hour or so." Teabing looked unamused as
he hobbled down the stairs. "I'm afraid that is impossible. I have a
medical appointment." He reached the tarmac. "I cannot afford to
The chief inspector repositioned himself to block Teabing's
progress away from the plane. "I am here at the orders of the
French Judicial Police. They claim you are transporting fugitives
from the law on this plane." Teabing stared at the chief inspector a
long moment, and then burst out laughing. "Is this one of those
hidden camera programs? Jolly good!" The chief inspector never
flinched. "This is serious, sir. The French police claim you also may
have a hostage onboard." Teabing's manservant Rémy appeared in
the doorway at the top of the stairs. "I feel like a hostage working
for Sir Leigh, but he assures me I am free to go." Rémy checked his
watch. "Master, we really are running late." He nodded toward the
Jaguar stretch limousine in the far corner of the hangar. The
enormous automobile was ebony with smoked glass and whitewall
tires. "I'll bring the car." Rémy started down the stairs. "I'm afraid
we cannot let you leave," the chief inspector said. "Please return to
your aircraft. Both of you. Representatives from the French police
will be landing shortly." Teabing looked now toward Simon Edwards.
"Simon, for heaven's sake, this is ridiculous! We don't have anyone
else on board. Just the usualRémy, our pilot, and myself. Perhaps
you could act as an intermediary? Go have a look onboard, and verify
that the plane is empty." Edwards knew he was trapped. "Yes, sir. I
can have a look." "The devil you will!" the Kent chief inspector
declared, apparently knowing enough about executive airfields to
suspect Simon Edwards might well lie about the plane's occupants in
an effort to keep Teabing's business at Biggin Hill. "I will look
myself." Teabing shook his head. "No you won't, Inspector. This is
private property and until you have a search warrant, you will stay
off my plane. I am offering you a reasonable option here. Mr.
Edwards can perform the inspection." "No deal." Teabing's
demeanor turned frosty. "Inspector, I'm afraid I don't have time
to indulge in your games. I'm late, and I'm leaving. If it is that
important to you to stop me, you'll just have to shoot me." With
that, Teabing and Rémy walked around the chief inspector and
headed across the hangar toward the parked limousine.
The Kent chief inspector felt only distaste for Leigh Teabing as the
man hobbled around him in defiance. Men of privilege always felt
like they were above the law. They are not. The chief inspector
turned and aimed at Teabing's back. "Stop! I will fire!" "Go ahead,"
Teabing said without breaking stride or glancing back. "My lawyers
will fricassee your testicles for breakfast. And if you dare board
my plane without a warrant, your spleen will follow." No stranger to
power plays, the chief inspector was unimpressed. Technically,
Teabing was correct and the police needed a warrant to board his
jet, but because the flight had originated in France, and because
the powerful Bezu Fache had given his authority, the Kent chief
inspector felt certain his career would be far better served by
finding out what it was on this plane that Teabing seemed so intent
on hiding. "Stop them," the inspector ordered. "I'm searching the
plane." His men raced over, guns leveled, and physically blocked
Teabing and his servant from reaching the limousine.
Now Teabing turned. "Inspector, this is your last warning. Do not
even think of boarding that plane. You will regret it." Ignoring the
threat, the chief inspector gripped his sidearm and marched up the
plane's gangway. Arriving at the hatch, he peered inside. After a
moment, he stepped into the cabin. What the devil? With the
exception of the frightened-looking pilot in the cockpit, the
aircraft was empty. Entirely devoid of human life. Quickly checking
the bathroom, the chairs, and the luggage areas, the inspector
found no traces of anyone hiding... much less multiple individuals.
What the hell was Bezu Fache thinking? It seemed Leigh Teabing
had been telling the truth. The Kent chief inspector stood alone in
the deserted cabin and swallowed hard. Shit. His face flushed, he
stepped back onto the gangway, gazing across the hangar at Leigh
Teabing and his servant, who were now under gunpoint near the
limousine. "Let them go," the inspector ordered. "We received a bad
tip." Teabing's eyes were menacing even across the hangar. "You can
expect a call from my lawyers. And for future reference, the
French police cannot be trusted." With that, Teabing's manservant
opened the door at the rear of the stretch limousine and helped his
crippled master into the back seat. Then the servant walked the
length of the car, climbed in behind the wheel, and gunned the
engine. Policemen scattered as the Jaguar peeled out of the hangar.
"Well played, my good man," Teabing chimed from the rear seat as
the limousine accelerated out of the airport. He turned his eyes now
to the dimly lit front recesses of the spacious interior. "Everyone
comfy?" Langdon gave a weak nod. He and Sophie were still crouched
on the floor beside the bound and gagged albino. Moments earlier,
as the Hawker taxied into the deserted hangar, Rémy had popped
the hatch as the plane jolted to a stop halfway through its turn.
With the police closing in fast, Langdon and Sophie dragged the
monk down the gangway to ground level and out of sight behind the
limousine. Then the jet engines had roared again, rotating the plane
and completing its turn as the police cars came skidding into the
hangar. Now, as the limousine raced toward Kent, Langdon and
Sophie clambered toward the rear of the limo's long interior,
leaving the monk bound on the floor. They settled onto the long seat
facing Teabing. The Brit gave them both a roguish smile and opened
the cabinet on the limo's bar. "Could I offer you a drink? Some
nibblies? Crisps? Nuts? Seltzer?" Sophie and Langdon both shook
their heads. Teabing grinned and closed the bar. "So then, about
this knight's tomb..."
"Fleet Street?" Langdon asked, eyeing Teabing in the back of the
limo. There's a crypt on Fleet Street? So far, Leigh was being
playfully cagey about where he thought they would find the
"knight's tomb," which, according to the poem, would provide the
password for opening the smaller cryptex.
Teabing grinned and turned to Sophie. "Miss Neveu, give the
Harvard boy one more shot at the verse, will you?" Sophie fished in
her pocket and pulled out the black cryptex, which was wrapped in
the vellum. Everyone had decided to leave the rosewood box and
larger cryptex behind in the plane's strongbox, carrying with them
only what they needed, the far more portable and discreet black
cryptex. Sophie unwrapped the vellum and handed the sheet to
Langdon. Although Langdon had read the poem several times
onboard the jet, he had been unable to extract any specific location.
Now, as he read the words again, he processed them slowly and
carefully, hoping the pentametric rhythms would reveal a clearer
meaning now that he was on the ground. In London lies a knight a
Pope interred. His labor's fruit a Holy wrath incurred. You seek the
orb that ought be on his tomb. It speaks of Rosy flesh and seeded
The language seemed simple enough. There was a knight buried in
London. A knight who labored at something that angered the
Church. A knight whose tomb was missing an orb that should be
present. The poem's final referenceRosy flesh and seeded wombwas
a clear allusion to Mary Magdalene, the Rose who bore the seed of
Jesus. Despite the apparent straightforwardness of the verse,
Langdon still had no idea who this knight was or where he was
buried. Moreover, once they located the tomb, it sounded as if they
would be searching for something that was absent. The orb that
ought be on his tomb? "No thoughts?" Teabing clucked in
disappointment, although Langdon sensed the Royal Historian was
enjoying being one up. "Miss Neveu?" She shook her head. "What
would you two do without me?" Teabing said. "Very well, I will walk
you through it. It's quite simple really. The first line is the key.
Would you read it please?" Langdon read aloud. " 'In London lies a
knight a Pope interred.' " "Precisely. A knight a Pope interred." He
eyed Langdon. "What does that mean to you?" Langdon shrugged. "A
knight buried by a Pope? A knight whose funeral was presided over
by a Pope?" Teabing laughed loudly. "Oh, that's rich. Always the
optimist, Robert. Look at the second line. This knight obviously did
something that incurred the Holy wrath of the Church. Think again.
Consider the dynamic between the Church and the Knights Templar.
A knight a Pope interred?" "A knight a Pope killed?" Sophie asked.
Teabing smiled and patted her knee. "Well done, my dear. A knight a
Pope buried. Or killed." Langdon thought of the notorious Templar
round-up in 1307unlucky Friday the thirteenthwhen Pope Clement
killed and interred hundreds of Knights Templar. "But there must be
endless graves of 'knights killed by Popes.' " "Aha, not so! "Teabing
said. "Many of them were burned at the stake and tossed
unceremoniously into the Tiber River. But this poem refers to a
tomb. A tomb in London. And there are few knights buried in
London." He paused, eyeing Langdon as if waiting for light to dawn.
Finally he huffed. "Robert, for heaven's sake! The church built in
London by the Priory's military armthe Knights Templar
themselves!" "The Temple Church?" Langdon drew a startled breath.
"It has a crypt?" "Ten of the most frightening tombs you will ever
see." Langdon had never actually visited the Temple Church,
although he'd come across numerous references in his Priory
research. Once the epicenter of all Templar/Priory activities in the
United Kingdom, the Temple Church had been so named in honor of
Solomon's Temple, from which the Knights Templar had extracted
their own title, as well as the Sangreal documents that gave them all
their influence in Rome. Tales abounded of knights performing
strange, secretive rituals within the Temple Church's unusual
sanctuary. "The Temple Church is on Fleet Street?" "Actually, it's
just off Fleet Street on Inner Temple Lane." Teabing looked
mischievous. "I wanted to see you sweat a little more before I gave
it away." "Thanks." "Neither of you has ever been there?" Sophie
and Langdon shook their heads. "I'm not surprised," Teabing said.
"The church is hidden now behind much larger buildings. Few people
even know it's there. Eerie old place. The architecture is pagan to
the core." Sophie looked surprised. "Pagan?" "Pantheonically pagan!"
Teabing exclaimed. "The church is round. The Templars ignored the
traditional Christian cruciform layout and built a perfectly circular
church in honor of the sun." His eyebrows did a devilish dance. "A
not so subtle howdy-do to the boys in Rome. They might as well have
resurrected Stonehenge in downtown London." Sophie eyed Teabing.
"What about the rest of the poem?" The historian's mirthful air
faded. "I'm not sure. It's puzzling. We will need to examine each of
the ten tombs carefully. With luck, one of them will have a
conspicuously absent orb." Langdon realized how close they really
were. If the missing orb revealed the password, they would be able
to open the second cryptex. He had a hard time imagining what they
might find inside. Langdon eyed the poem again. It was like some
kind of primordial crossword puzzle. A five-letter word that speaks
of the Grail? On the plane, they had already tried all the obvious
passwordsGRAIL, GRAAL, GREAL, VENUS, MARIA, JESUS,
SARAHbut the cylinder had not budged. Far too obvious. Apparently
there existed some other five-letter reference to the Rose's
seeded womb. The fact that the word was eluding a specialist like
Leigh Teabing signified to Langdon that it was no ordinary Grail
reference. "Sir Leigh?" Rémy called over his shoulder. He was
watching them in the rearview mirror through the open divider. "You
said Fleet Street is near Blackfriars Bridge?" "Yes, take Victoria
Embankment." "I'm sorry. I'm not sure where that is. We usually go
only to the hospital." Teabing rolled his eyes at Langdon and Sophie
and grumbled, "I swear, sometimes it's like baby-sitting a child. One
moment please. Help yourself to a drink and savory snacks." He left
them, clambering awkwardly toward the open divider to talk to
Rémy. Sophie turned to Langdon now, her voice quiet. "Robert,
nobody knows you and I are in England."
Langdon realized she was right. The Kent police would tell Fache the
plane was empty, and Fache would have to assume they were still in
France. We are invisible. Leigh's little stunt had just bought them a
lot of time. "Fache will not give up easily," Sophie said. "He has too
much riding on this arrest now." Langdon had been trying not to
think about Fache. Sophie had promised she would do everything in
her power to exonerate Langdon once this was over, but Langdon
was starting to fear it might not matter. Fache could easily be pan
of this plot. Although Langdon could not imagine the Judicial Police
tangled up in the Holy Grail, he sensed too much coincidence tonight
to disregard Fache as a possible accomplice. Fache is religions, and
he is intent on pinning these murders on me. Then again, Sophie had
argued that Fache might simply be overzealous to make the arrest.
After all, the evidence against Langdon was substantial. In addition
to Langdon's name scrawled on the Louvre floor and in Saunière's
date book, Langdon now appeared to have lied about his manuscript
and then run away. At Sophie's suggestion. "Robert, I'm sorry
you're so deeply involved," Sophie said, placing her hand on his knee.
"But I'm very glad you're here." The comment sounded more
pragmatic than romantic, and yet Langdon felt an unexpected
flicker of attraction between them. He gave her a tired smile. "I'm
a lot more fun when I've slept." Sophie was silent for several
seconds. "My grandfather asked me to trust you. I'm glad I listened
to him for once." "Your grandfather didn't even know me." "Even so,
I can't help but think you've done everything he would have wanted.
You helped me find the keystone, explained the Sangreal, told me
about the ritual in the basement." She paused. "Somehow I feel
closer to my grandfather tonight than I have in years. I know he
would be happy about that." In the distance, now, the skyline of
London began to materialize through the dawn drizzle. Once
dominated by Big Ben and Tower Bridge, the horizon now bowed to
the Millennium Eyea colossal, ultramodern Ferris wheel that climbed
five hundred feet and afforded breathtaking views of the city.
Langdon had attempted to board it once, but the "viewing capsules"
reminded him of sealed sarcophagi, and he opted to keep his feet on
the ground and enjoy the view from the airy banks of the Thames.
Langdon felt a squeeze on his knee, pulling him back, and Sophie's
green eyes were on him. He realized she had been speaking to him.
"What do you think we should do with the Sangreal documents if we
ever find them?" she whispered. "What I think is immaterial,"
Langdon said. "Your grandfather gave the cryptex to you, and you
should do with it what your instinct tells you he would want done."
"I'm asking for your opinion. You obviously wrote something in that
manuscript that made my grandfather trust your judgment. He
scheduled a private meeting with you. That's rare." "Maybe he
wanted to tell me I have it all wrong." "Why would he tell me to find
you unless he liked your ideas? In your manuscript, did you support
the idea that the Sangreal documents should be revealed or stay
buried?" "Neither. I made no judgment either way. The manuscript
deals with the symbology of the sacred femininetracing her
iconography throughout history. I certainly didn't presume to know
where the Grail is hidden or whether it should ever be revealed."
"And yet you're writing a book about it, so you obviously feel the
information should be
"There's an enormous difference between hypothetically discussing
an alternate history of
Christ, and..." He paused.
"And presenting to the world thousands of ancient documents as
scientific evidence that
the New Testament is false testimony."
"But you told me the New Testament is based on fabrications."
Langdon smiled. "Sophie, every faith in the world is based on
fabrication. That is the
definition of faithacceptance of that which we imagine to be true,
that which we cannot
prove. Every religion describes God through metaphor, allegory, and
the early Egyptians through modern Sunday school. Metaphors are a
way to help our
minds process the unprocessible. The problems arise when we begin
to believe literally in
our own metaphors."
"So you are in favor of the Sangreal documents staying buried
"I'm a historian. I'm opposed to the destruction of documents, and
I would love to see
religious scholars have more information to ponder the exceptional
life of Jesus Christ."
"You're arguing both sides of my question."
"Am I? The Bible represents a fundamental guidepost for millions of
people on the planet,
in much the same way the Koran, Torah, and Pali Canon offer
guidance to people of
other religions. If you and I could dig up documentation that
contradicted the holy stories
of Islamic belief, Judaic belief, Buddhist belief, pagan belief,
should we do that? Should
we wave a flag and tell the Buddhists that we have proof the
Buddha did not come from a
lotus blossom? Or that Jesus was not born of a literal virgin birth?
Those who truly
understand their faiths understand the stories are metaphorical."
Sophie looked skeptical. "My friends who are devout Christians
definitely believe that
Christ literally walked on water, literally turned water into wine, and
was born of a literal
"My point exactly," Langdon said. "Religious allegory has become a
part of the fabric of
reality. And living in that reality helps millions of people cope and be
"But it appears their reality is false."
Langdon chuckled. "No more false than that of a mathematical
believes in the imaginary number 'i' because it helps her break
Sophie frowned. "That's not fair."
A moment passed.
"What was your question again?" Langdon asked.
"I can't remember."
He smiled. "Works every time."
Langdon's Mickey Mouse wristwatch read almost seven-thirty when
he emerged from the
Jaguar limousine onto Inner Temple Lane with Sophie and Teabing.
wound through a maze of buildings to a small courtyard outside the
Temple Church. The
rough-hewn stone shimmered in the rain, and doves cooed in the
London's ancient Temple Church was constructed entirely of Caen
stone. A dramatic,
circular edifice with a daunting facade, a central turret, and a
protruding nave off one side,
the church looked more like a military stronghold than a place of
worship. Consecrated on the tenth of February in 1185 by Heraclius,
Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Temple Church survived eight centuries
of political turmoil, the Great Fire of London, and the First World
War, only to be heavily damaged by Luftwaffe incendiary bombs in
1940. After the war, it was restored to its original, stark grandeur.
The simplicity of the circle, Langdon thought, admiring the building
for the first time. The architecture was coarse and simple, more
reminiscent of Rome's rugged Castel Sant'Angelo than the refined
Pantheon. The boxy annex jutting out to the right was an
unfortunate eyesore, although it did little to shroud the original
pagan shape of the primary structure. "It's early on a Saturday,"
Teabing said, hobbling toward the entrance, "so I'm assuming we
won't have services to deal with." The church's entryway was a
recessed stone niche inside which stood a large wooden door. To the
left of the door, looking entirely out of place, hung a bulletin board
covered with concert schedules and religious service
announcements. Teabing frowned as he read the board. "They don't
open to sightseers for another couple of hours." He moved to the
door and tried it. The door didn't budge. Putting his ear to the
wood, he listened. After a moment, he pulled back, a scheming look
on his face as he pointed to the bulletin board. "Robert, check the
service schedule, will you? Who is presiding this week?"
Inside the church, an altar boy was almost finished vacuuming the
communion kneelers when he heard a knocking on the sanctuary
door. He ignored it. Father Harvey Knowles had his own keys and
was not due for another couple of hours. The knocking was probably
a curious tourist or indigent. The altar boy kept vacuuming, but the
knocking continued. Can't you read? The sign on the door clearly
stated that the church did not open until nine-thirty on Saturday.
The altar boy remained with his chores. Suddenly, the knocking
turned to a forceful banging, as if someone were hitting the door
with a metal rod. The young man switched off his vacuum cleaner
and marched angrily toward the door. Unlatching it from within, he
swung it open. Three people stood in the entryway. Tourists, he
grumbled. "We open at nine-thirty." The heavyset man, apparently
the leader, stepped forward using metal crutches. "I am Sir Leigh
Teabing," he said, his accent a highbrow, Saxonesque British. "As
you are no doubt aware, I am escorting Mr. and Mrs. Christopher
Wren the Fourth." He stepped aside, flourishing his arm toward the
attractive couple behind them. The woman was soft-featured, with
lush burgundy hair. The man was tall, dark-haired, and looked
vaguely familiar. The altar boy had no idea how to respond. Sir
Christopher Wren was the Temple Church's most famous
benefactor. He had made possible all the restorations following
damage caused by the Great Fire. He had also been dead since the
early eighteenth century. "Um... an honor to meet you?" The man on
crutches frowned. "Good thing you're not in sales, young man, you're
not very convincing. Where is Father Knowles?" "It's Saturday. He's
not due in until later." The crippled man's scowl deepened. "There's
gratitude. He assured us he would be here, but it looks like we'll do
it without him. It won't take long."
The altar boy remained blocking the doorway. "I'm sorry, what
won't take long?"
The visitor's eyes sharpened now, and he leaned forward whispering
as if to save
everyone some embarrassment. "Young man, apparently you are new
here. Every year
Sir Christopher Wren's descendants bring a pinch of the old man's
ashes to scatter in the
Temple sanctuary. It is part of his last will and testament. Nobody
is particularly happy
about making the trip, but what can we do?"
The altar boy had been here a couple of years but had never heard
of this custom. "It
would be better if you waited until nine-thirty. The church isn't
open yet, and I'm not
The man on crutches glared angrily. "Young man, the only reason
there's anything left of
this building for you to hoover is on account of the gentleman in
that woman's pocket."
"Mrs. Wren," the man on crutches said, "would you be so kind as to
impertinent young man the reliquary of ashes?"
The woman hesitated a moment and then, as if awaking from a
trance, reached in her
sweater pocket and pulled out a small cylinder wrapped in protective
"There, you see?" the man on crutches snapped. "Now, you can
either grant his dying
wish and let us sprinkle his ashes in the sanctuary, or I tell Father
Knowles how we've
The altar boy hesitated, well acquainted with Father Knowles' deep
observance of church
tradition... and, more importantly, with his foul temper when
anything cast this time-
honored shrine in anything but favorable light. Maybe Father
Knowles had simply
forgotten these family members were coming. If so, then there was
far more risk in
turning them away than in letting them in. After all, they said it
would only take a minute.
What harm could it do?
When the altar boy stepped aside to let the three people pass, he
could have sworn Mr.
and Mrs. Wren looked just as bewildered by all of this as he was.
Uncertain, the boy
returned to his chores, watching them out of the corner of his eye.
Langdon had to smile as the threesome moved deeper into the
"Leigh," he whispered, "you lie entirely too well."
Teabing's eyes twinkled. "Oxford Theatre Club. They still talk of my
Julius Caesar. I'm
certain nobody has ever performed the first scene of Act Three
with more dedication."
Langdon glanced over. "I thought Caesar was dead in that scene."
Teabing smirked. "Yes, but my toga tore open when I fell, and I had
to lie on stage for
half an hour with my todger hanging out. Even so, I never moved a
muscle. I was brilliant,
I tell you."
Langdon cringed. Sorry I missed it.
As the group moved through the rectangular annex toward the
archway leading into the
main church, Langdon was surprised by the barren austerity.
Although the altar layout
resembled that of a linear Christian chapel, the furnishings were
stark and cold, bearing
none of the traditional ornamentation. "Bleak," he whispered.
Teabing chuckled. "Church of England. Anglicans drink their religion
to distract from their misery."
Sophie motioned through the vast opening that gave way to the
circular section of the
church. "It looks like a fortress in there," she whispered.
Langdon agreed. Even from here, the walls looked unusually robust.
"The Knights Templar were warriors," Teabing reminded, the sound
of his aluminum crutches echoing in this reverberant space. "A
religio-military society. Their churches were their strongholds and
their banks." "Banks?" Sophie asked, glancing at Leigh. "Heavens,
yes. The Templars invented the concept of modern banking. For
European nobility, traveling with gold was perilous, so the Templars
allowed nobles to deposit gold in their nearest Temple Church and
then draw it from any other Temple Church across Europe. All they
needed was proper documentation." He winked. "And a small
commission. They were the original ATMs." Teabing pointed toward
a stained-glass window where the breaking sun was refracting
through a white-clad knight riding a rose-colored horse. "Alanus
Marcel," Teabing said, "Master of the Temple in the early twelve
hundreds. He and his successors actually held the Parliamentary
chair of Primus Baro Angiae." Langdon was surprised. "First Baron of
the Realm?" Teabing nodded. "The Master of the Temple, some
claim, held more influence than the king himself." As they arrived
outside the circular chamber, Teabing shot a glance over his
shoulder at the altar boy, who was vacuuming in the distance. "You
know," Teabing whispered to Sophie, "the Holy Grail is said to once
have been stored in this church overnight while the Templars moved
it from one hiding place to another. Can you imagine the four chests
of Sangreal documents sitting right here with Mary Magdalene's
sarcophagus? It gives me gooseflesh." Langdon was feeling
gooseflesh too as they stepped into the circular chamber. His eye
traced the curvature of the chamber's pale stone perimeter, taking
in the carvings of gargoyles, demons, monsters, and pained human
faces, all staring inward. Beneath the carvings, a single stone pew
curled around the entire circumference of the room. "Theater in
the round," Langdon whispered. Teabing raised a crutch, pointing
toward the far left of the room and then to the far right. Langdon
had already seen them. Ten stone knights. Five on the left. Five on
the right. Lying prone on the floor, the carved, life-sized figures
rested in peaceful poses. The knights were depicted wearing full
armor, shields, and swords, and the tombs gave Langdon the uneasy
sensation that someone had snuck in and poured plaster over the
knights while they were sleeping. All of the figures were deeply
weathered, and yet each was clearly uniquedifferent armory pieces,
distinct leg and arm positions, facial features, and markings on their
shields. In London lies a knight a Pope interred. Langdon felt shaky
as he inched deeper into the circular room. This had to be the place.
In a rubbish-strewn alley very close to Temple Church, Rémy
Legaludec pulled the Jaguar limousine to a stop behind a row of
industrial waste bins. Killing the engine, he checked the area.
Deserted. He got out of the car, walked toward the rear, and
climbed back into the limousine's main cabin where the monk was.
Sensing Rémy's presence, the monk in the back emerged from a
prayer-like trance, his
red eyes looking more curious than fearful. All evening Rémy had
been impressed with
this trussed man's ability to stay calm. After some initial struggles
in the Range Rover,
the monk seemed to have accepted his plight and given over his fate
to a higher power.
Loosening his bow tie, Rémy unbuttoned his high, starched, wing-
tipped collar and felt as
if he could breathe for the first time in years. He went to the
limousine's wet bar, where
he poured himself a Smirnoff vodka. He drank it in a single swallow
and followed it with
Soon I will be a man of leisure.
Searching the bar, Rémy found a standard service wine-opener and
flicked open the sharp
blade. The knife was usually employed to slice the lead foil from
corks on fine bottles of
wine, but it would serve a far more dramatic purpose this morning.
Rémy turned and
faced Silas, holding up the glimmering blade.
Now those red eyes flashed fear.
Rémy smiled and moved toward the back of the limousine. The monk
against his bonds.
"Be still," Rémy whispered, raising the blade.
Silas could not believe that God had forsaken him. Even the physical
pain of being bound
Silas had turned into a spiritual exercise, asking the throb of his
blood-starved muscles to
remind him of the pain Christ endured. I have been praying all night
for liberation. Now,
as the knife descended, Silas clenched his eyes shut.
A slash of pain tore through his shoulder blades. He cried out,
unable to believe he was
going to die here in the back of this limousine, unable to defend
himself. I was doing
God's work. The Teacher said he would protect me.
Silas felt the biting warmth spreading across his back and shoulders
and could picture his
own blood, spilling out over his flesh. A piercing pain cut through his
thighs now, and he
felt the onset of that familiar undertow of disorientationthe body's
against the pain.
As the biting heat tore through all of his muscles now, Silas
clenched his eyes tighter,
determined that the final image of his life would not be of his own
killer. Instead he
pictured a younger Bishop Aringarosa, standing before the small
church in Spain... the
church that he and Silas had built with their own hands. The
beginning of my life.
Silas felt as if his body were on fire.
"Take a drink," the tuxedoed man whispered, his accent French. "It
will help with your
Silas's eyes flew open in surprise. A blurry image was leaning over
him, offering a glass
of liquid. A mound of shredded duct tape lay on the floor beside the
"Drink this," he repeated. "The pain you feel is the blood rushing
into your muscles."
Silas felt the fiery throb transforming now to a prickling sting. The
vodka tasted terrible,
but he drank it, feeling grateful. Fate had dealt Silas a healthy
share of bad luck tonight,
but God had solved it all with one miraculous twist.
God has not forsaken me.
Silas knew what Bishop Aringarosa would call it.
"I had wanted to free you earlier," the servant apologized, "but it
was impossible. With
the police arriving at Château Villette, and then at Biggin Hill
airport, this was the first
possible moment. You understand, don't you, Silas?"
Silas recoiled, startled. "You know my name?"
The servant smiled.
Silas sat up now, rubbing his stiff muscles, his emotions a torrent of
appreciation, and confusion. "Are you... the Teacher?"
Rémy shook his head, laughing at the proposition. "I wish I had that
kind of power. No, I
am not the Teacher. Like you, I serve him. But the Teacher speaks
highly of you. My
name is Rémy."
Silas was amazed. "I don't understand. If you work for the Teacher,
why did Langdon
bring the keystone to your home?"
"Not my home. The home of the world's foremost Grail historian,
Sir Leigh Teabing."
"But you live there. The odds..."
Rémy smiled, seeming to have no trouble with the apparent
coincidence of Langdon's
chosen refuge. "It was all utterly predictable. Robert Langdon was
in possession of the
keystone, and he needed help. What more logical place to run than
to the home of Leigh
Teabing? That I happen to live there is why the Teacher
approached me in the first
place." He paused. "How do you think the Teacher knows so much
about the Grail?"
Now it dawned, and Silas was stunned. The Teacher had recruited a
servant who had
access to all of Sir Leigh Teabing's research. It was brilliant.
"There is much I have to tell you," Rémy said, handing Silas the
loaded Heckler Koch
pistol. Then he reached through the open partition and retrieved a
revolver from the glove box. "But first, you and I have a job to do."
Captain Fache descended from his transport plane at Biggin Hill and
listened in disbelief
to the Kent chief inspector's account of what had happened in
"I searched the plane myself," the inspector insisted, "and there
was no one inside." His
tone turned haughty. "And I should add that if Sir Leigh Teabing
presses charges against
me, I will"
"Did you interrogate the pilot?"
"Of course not. He is French, and our jurisdiction requires"
"Take me to the plane."
Arriving at the hangar, Fache needed only sixty seconds to locate an
anomalous smear of
blood on the pavement near where the limousine had been parked.
Fache walked up to
the plane and rapped loudly on the fuselage.
"This is the captain of the French Judicial Police. Open the door!"
The terrified pilot opened the hatch and lowered the stairs.
Fache ascended. Three minutes later, with the help of his sidearm,
he had a full
confession, including a description of the bound albino monk. In
addition, he learned that
the pilot saw Langdon and Sophie leave something behind in
Teabing's safe, a wooden
box of some sort. Although the pilot denied knowing what was in the
box, he admitted it
had been the focus of Langdon's full attention during the flight to
"Open the safe," Fache demanded.
The pilot looked terrified. "I don't know the combination!"
"That's too bad. I was going to offer to let you keep your pilot's
The pilot wrung his hands. "I know some men in maintenance here.
Maybe they could
"You have half an hour."
The pilot leapt for his radio.
Fache strode to the back of the plane and poured himself a hard
drink. It was early, but he
had not yet slept, so this hardly counted as drinking before noon.
Sitting in a plush bucket
seat, he closed his eyes, trying to sort out what was going on. The
Kent police's blunder
could cost me dearly. Everyone was now on the lookout for a black
Fache's phone rang, and he wished for a moment's peace. "Allo?"
"I'm en route to London." It was Bishop Aringarosa. "I'll be arriving
in an hour."
Fache sat up. "I thought you were going to Paris."
"I am deeply concerned. I have changed my plans."
"You should not have."
"Do you have Silas?"
"No. His captors eluded the local police before I landed."
Aringarosa's anger rang sharply. "You assured me you would stop
Fache lowered his voice. "Bishop, considering your situation, I
recommend you not test
my patience today. I will find Silas and the others as soon as
possible. Where are you
"One moment." Aringarosa covered the receiver and then came
back. "The pilot is trying
to get clearance at Heathrow. I'm his only passenger, but our
redirect was unscheduled."
"Tell him to come to Biggin Hill Executive Airport in Kent. I'll get
him clearance. If I'm
not here when you land, I'll have a car waiting for you."
"As I expressed when we first spoke, Bishop, you would do well to
remember that you
are not the only man on the verge of losing everything."
You seek the orb that ought be on his tomb.
Each of the carved knights within the Temple Church lay on his back
with his head
resting on a rectangular stone pillow. Sophie felt a chill. The poem's
reference to an "orb"
conjured images of the night in her grandfather's basement.
Hieros Gamos. The orbs.
Sophie wondered if the ritual had been performed in this very
sanctuary. The circular
room seemed custom-built for such a pagan rite. A stone pew
encircled a bare expanse of
floor in the middle. A theater in the round, as Robert had called it.
She imagined this
chamber at night, filled with masked people, chanting by torchlight,
all witnessing a
"sacred communion" in the center of the room.
Forcing the image from her mind, she advanced with Langdon and
Teabing toward the
first group of knights. Despite Teabing's insistence that their
investigation should be
conducted meticulously, Sophie felt eager and pushed ahead of
them, making a cursory
walk-through of the five knights on the left.
Scrutinizing these first tombs, Sophie noted the similarities and
differences between them.
Every knight was on his back, but three of the knights had their
legs extended straight out
while two had their legs crossed. The oddity seemed to have no
relevance to the missing
orb. Examining their clothing, Sophie noted that two of the knights
wore tunics over their
armor, while the other three wore ankle-length robes. Again, utterly
turned her attention to the only other obvious differencetheir hand
positions. Two knights
clutched swords, two prayed, and one had his arms at his side. After
a long moment
looking at the hands, Sophie shrugged, having seen no hint anywhere
of a conspicuously
Feeling the weight of the cryptex in her sweater pocket, she
glanced back at Langdon and
Teabing. The men were moving slowly, still only at the third knight,
no luck either. In no mood to wait, she turned away from them
toward the second group
As she crossed the open space, she quietly recited the poem she
had read so many times
now that it was committed to memory.
In London lies a knight a Pope interred.
His labor's fruit a Holy wrath incurred.
You seek the orb that ought be on his tomb.
It speaks of Rosy flesh and seeded womb.
When Sophie arrived at the second group of knights, she found that
this second group
was similar to the first. All lay with varied body positions, wearing
armor and swords.
That was, all except the tenth and final tomb.
Hurrying over to it, she stared down.
No pillow. No armor. No tunic. No sword.
"Robert? Leigh?" she called, her voice echoing around the chamber.
missing over here."
Both men looked up and immediately began to cross the room toward
"An orb?" Teabing called excitedly. His crutches clicked out a rapid
staccato as he
hurried across the room. "Are we missing an orb?"
"Not exactly," Sophie said, frowning at the tenth tomb. "We seem
to be missing an entire
Arriving beside her both men gazed down in confusion at the tenth
tomb. Rather than a
knight lying in the open air, this tomb was a sealed stone casket.
The casket was
trapezoidal, tapered at the feet, widening toward the top, with a
"Why isn't this knight shown?" Langdon asked.
"Fascinating," Teabing said, stroking his chin. "I had forgotten
about this oddity. It's been
years since I was here."
"This coffin," Sophie said, "looks like it was carved at the same time
and by the same
sculptor as the other nine tombs. So why is this knight in a casket
rather than in the
Teabing shook his head. "One of this church's mysteries. To the
best of my knowledge,
nobody has ever found any explanation for it."
"Hello?" the altar boy said, arriving with a perturbed look on his
face. "Forgive me if this
seems rude, but you told me you wanted to spread ashes, and yet
you seem to be
Teabing scowled at the boy and turned to Langdon. "Mr. Wren,
apparently your family's
philanthropy does not buy you the time it used to, so perhaps we
should take out the
ashes and get on with it." Teabing turned to Sophie. "Mrs. Wren?"
Sophie played along, pulling the vellum-wrapped cryptex from her
"Now then," Teabing snapped at the boy, "if you would give us some
The altar boy did not move. He was eyeing Langdon closely now. "You
Teabing huffed. "Perhaps that is because Mr. Wren comes here
Or perhaps, Sophie now feared, because he saw Langdon on
television at the Vatican last
"I have never met Mr. Wren," the altar boy declared.
"You're mistaken," Langdon said politely. "I believe you and I met in
passing last year.
Father Knowles failed to formally introduce us, but I recognized
your face as we came in.
Now, I realize this is an intrusion, but if you could afford me a few
more minutes, I have
traveled a great distance to scatter ashes amongst these tombs."
Langdon spoke his lines
with Teabing-esque believability.
The altar boy's expression turned even more skeptical. "These are
"I'm sorry?" Langdon said.
"Of course they are tombs," Teabing declared. "What are you
The altar boy shook his head. "Tombs contain bodies. These are
effigies. Stone tributes to
real men. There are no bodies beneath these figures."
"This is a crypt!" Teabing said.
"Only in outdated history books. This was believed to be a crypt but
was revealed as
nothing of the sort during the 1950 renovation." He turned back to
Langdon. "And I
imagine Mr. Wren would know that. Considering it was his family
that uncovered that
An uneasy silence fell.
It was broken by the sound of a door slamming out in the annex.
"That must be Father Knowles," Teabing said. "Perhaps you should
The altar boy looked doubtful but stalked back toward the annex,
Sophie, and Teabing to eye one another gloomily.
"Leigh," Langdon whispered. "No bodies? What is he talking about?"
Teabing looked distraught. "I don't know. I always thought...
certainly, this must be the
place. I can't imagine he knows what he is talking about. It makes no
"Can I see the poem again?" Langdon said.
Sophie pulled the cryptex from her pocket and carefully handed it
Langdon unwrapped the vellum, holding the cryptex in his hand while
he examined the
poem. "Yes, the poem definitely references a tomb. Not an effigy."
"Could the poem be wrong?" Teabing asked. "Could Jacques Saunière
have made the
same mistake I just did?"
Langdon considered it and shook his head. "Leigh, you said it
yourself. This church was
built by Templars, the military arm of the Priory. Something tells
me the Grand Master of
the Priory would have a pretty good idea if there were knights
Teabing looked flabbergasted. "But this place is perfect." He
wheeled back toward the
knights. "We must be missing something!"
Entering the annex, the altar boy was surprised to find it deserted.
"Father Knowles?" I
know I heard the door, he thought, moving forward until he could
see the entryway.
A thin man in a tuxedo stood near the doorway, scratching his head
and looking lost. The
altar boy gave an irritated huff, realizing he had forgotten to
relock the door when he let
the others in. Now some pathetic sod had wandered in off the
street, looking for
directions to some wedding from the looks of it. "I'm sorry," he
called out, passing a large
pillar, "we're closed."
A flurry of cloth ruffled behind him, and before the altar boy could
turn, his head snapped
backward, a powerful hand clamping hard over his mouth from
behind, muffling his
scream. The hand over the boy's mouth was snow-white, and he
The prim man in the tuxedo calmly produced a very small revolver,
which he aimed
directly at the boy's forehead.
The altar boy felt his groin grow hot and realized he had wet
"Listen carefully," the tuxedoed man whispered. "You will exit this
church silently, and
you will run. You will not stop. Is that clear?"
The boy nodded as best he could with the hand over his mouth.
"If you call the police..." The tuxedoed man pressed the gun to his
skin. "I will find you."
The next thing the boy knew, he was sprinting across the outside
courtyard with no plans
of stopping until his legs gave out.
Like a ghost, Silas drifted silently behind his target. Sophie Neveu
sensed him too late.
Before she could turn, Silas pressed the gun barrel into her spine
and wrapped a powerful
arm across her chest, pulling her back against his hulking body. She
yelled in surprise.
Teabing and Langdon both turned now, their expressions astonished
"What...?" Teabing choked out. "What did you do to Rémy!"
"Your only concern," Silas said calmly, "is that I leave here with the
recovery mission, as Rémy had described it, was to be clean and
simple: Enter the church,
take the keystone, and walk out; no killing, no struggle.
Holding Sophie firm, Silas dropped his hand from her chest, down to
her waist, slipping
it inside her deep sweater pockets, searching. He could smell the
soft fragrance of her
hair through his own alcohol-laced breath. "Where is it?" he
whispered. The keystone
was in her sweater pocket earlier. So where is it now?
"It's over here," Langdon's deep voice resonated from across the
Silas turned to see Langdon holding the black cryptex before him,
waving it back and
forth like a matador tempting a dumb animal.
"Set it down," Silas demanded.
"Let Sophie and Leigh leave the church," Langdon replied. "You and I
can settle this."
Silas pushed Sophie away from him and aimed the gun at Langdon,
moving toward him.
"Not a step closer," Langdon said. "Not until they leave the
"You are in no position to make demands."
"I disagree." Langdon raised the cryptex high over his head. "I will
not hesitate to smash
this on the floor and break the vial inside."
Although Silas sneered outwardly at the threat, he felt a flash of
fear. This was
unexpected. He aimed the gun at Langdon's head and kept his voice
as steady as his hand.
"You would never break the keystone. You want to find the Grail as
much as I do."
"You're wrong. You want it much more. You've proven you're willing
to kill for it."
Forty feet away, peering out from the annex pews near the
archway, Rémy Legaludec felt
a rising alarm. The maneuver had not gone as planned, and even from
here, he could see
Silas was uncertain how to handle the situation. At the Teacher's
orders, Rémy had forbidden Silas to fire his gun. "Let them go,"
Langdon again demanded, holding the cryptex high over his head and
staring into Silas's gun. The monk's red eyes filled with anger and
frustration, and Rémy tightened with fear that Silas might actually
shoot Langdon while he was holding the cryptex. The cryptex cannot
fall! The cryptex was to be Rémy's ticket to freedom and wealth. A
little over a year ago, he was simply a fifty-five-year-old
manservant living within the walls of Château Villette, catering to
the whims of the insufferable cripple Sir Leigh Teabing. Then he
was approached with an extraordinary proposition. Rémy's
association with Sir Leigh Teabingthe preeminent Grail historian on
earthwas going to bring Rémy everything he had ever dreamed of in
life. Since then, every moment he had spent inside Château Villette
had been leading him to this very instant. I am so close, Rémy told
himself, gazing into the sanctuary of the Temple Church and the
keystone in Robert Langdon's hand. If Langdon dropped it, all would
be lost. Am I willing to show my face? It was something the Teacher
had strictly forbidden. Rémy was the only one who knew the
Teacher's identity. "Are you certain you want Silas to carry out this
task?" Rémy had asked the Teacher less than half an hour ago, upon
getting orders to steal the keystone. "I myself am capable." The
Teacher was resolute. "Silas served us well with the four Priory
members. He will recover the keystone. You must remain anonymous.
If others see you, they will need to be eliminated, and there has
been enough killing already. Do not reveal your face."
My face will change, Rémy thought. With what you've promised to
pay me, I will become an entirely new man. Surgery could even
change his fingerprints, the Teacher had told him. Soon he would be
freeanother unrecognizable, beautiful face soaking up the sun on
the beach. "Understood," Rémy said. "I will assist Silas from the
shadows." "For your own knowledge, Rémy," the Teacher had told
him, "the tomb in question is not in the Temple Church. So have no
fear. They are looking in the wrong place." Rémy was stunned. "And
you know where the tomb is?" "Of course. Later, I will tell you. For
the moment, you must act quickly. If the others figure out the true
location of the tomb and leave the church before you take the
cryptex, we could lose the Grail forever." Rémy didn't give a damn
about the Grail, except that the Teacher refused to pay him until it
was found. Rémy felt giddy every time he thought of the money he
soon would have. One third of twenty million euro. Plenty to
disappear forever. Rémy had pictured the beach towns on the Côte
d'Azur, where he planned to live out his days basking in the sun and
letting others serve him for a change. Now, however, here in the
Temple Church, with Langdon threatening to break the keystone,
Rémy's future was at risk. Unable to bear the thought of coming
this close only to lose it all, Rémy made the decision to take bold
action. The gun in his hand was a concealable, small-caliber, J-frame
Medusa, but it would be plenty deadly at close range. Stepping from
the shadows, Rémy marched into the circular chamber and aimed
the gun directly at Teabing's head. "Old man, I've been waiting a
long time to do this."
Sir Leigh Teabing's heart practically stalled to see Rémy aiming a
gun at him. What is he
doing! Teabing recognized the tiny Medusa revolver as his own, the
one he kept locked
in the limousine glove box for safety.
"Rémy?" Teabing sputtered in shock. "What is going on?"
Langdon and Sophie looked equally dumbstruck.
Rémy circled behind Teabing and rammed the pistol barrel into his
back, high and on the
left, directly behind his heart.
Teabing felt his muscles seize with terror. "Rémy, I don't"
"I'll make it simple," Rémy snapped, eyeing Langdon over Teabing's
shoulder. "Set down
the keystone, or I pull the trigger."
Langdon seemed momentarily paralyzed. "The keystone is worthless
to you," he
stammered. "You cannot possibly open it."
"Arrogant fools," Rémy sneered. "Have you not noticed that I have
been listening tonight
as you discussed these poems? Everything I heard, I have shared
with others. Others who
know more than you. You are not even looking in the right place. The
tomb you seek is in
another location entirely!"
Teabing felt panicked. What is he saying!
"Why do you want the Grail?" Langdon demanded. "To destroy it?
Before the End of
Rémy called to the monk. "Silas, take the keystone from Mr.
As the monk advanced, Langdon stepped back, raising the keystone
high, looking fully
prepared to hurl it at the floor.
"I would rather break it," Langdon said, "than see it in the wrong
Teabing now felt a wave of horror. He could see his life's work
evaporating before his
eyes. All his dreams about to be shattered.
"Robert, no!" Teabing exclaimed. "Don't! That's the Grail you're
holding! Rémy would
never shoot me. We've known each other for ten"
Rémy aimed at the ceiling and fired the Medusa. The blast was
enormous for such a
small weapon, the gunshot echoing like thunder inside the stone
"I am not playing games," Rémy said. "The next one is in his back.
Hand the keystone to
Langdon reluctantly held out the cryptex. Silas stepped forward and
took it, his red eyes
gleaming with the self-satisfaction of vengeance. Slipping the
keystone in the pocket of
his robe, Silas backed off, still holding Langdon and Sophie at
Teabing felt Rémy's arm clamp hard around his neck as the servant
began backing out of
the building, dragging Teabing with him, the gun still pressed in his
"Let him go," Langdon demanded.
"We're taking Mr. Teabing for a drive," Rémy said, still backing up.
"If you call the
police, he will die. If you do anything to interfere, he will die. Is
"Take me," Langdon demanded, his voice cracking with emotion. "Let
Rémy laughed. "I don't think so. He and I have such a nice history.
Besides, he still might
Silas was backing up now, keeping Langdon and Sophie at gunpoint as
Leigh toward the exit, his crutches dragging behind him.
Sophie's voice was unwavering. "Who are you working for?"
The question brought a smirk to the departing Rémy's face. "You
would be surprised, Mademoiselle Neveu."
The fireplace in Château Villette's drawing room was cold, but
Collet paced before it nonetheless as he read the faxes from
Interpol. Not at all what he expected. André Vernet, according to
official records, was a model citizen. No police recordnot even a
parking ticket. Educated at prep school and the Sorbonne, he had a
cum laude degree in international finance. Interpol said Vernet's
name appeared in the newspapers from time to time, but always in a
positive light. Apparently the man had helped design the security
parameters that kept the Depository Bank of Zurich a leader in the
ultramodern world of electronic security. Vernet's credit card
records showed a penchant for art books, expensive wine, and
classical CD'smostly Brahmswhich he apparently enjoyed on an
exceptionally high-end stereo system he had purchased several
years ago. Zero, Collet sighed. The only red flag tonight from
Interpol had been a set of fingerprints that apparently belonged to
Teabing's servant. The chief PTS examiner was reading the report
in a comfortable chair across the room. Collet looked over.
"Anything?" The examiner shrugged. "Prints belong to Rémy
Legaludec. Wanted for petty crime. Nothing serious. Looks like he
got kicked out of university for rewiring phone jacks to get free
service... later did some petty theft. Breaking and entering. Skipped
out on a hospital bill once for an emergency tracheotomy." He
glanced up, chuckling. "Peanut allergy." Collet nodded, recalling a
police investigation into a restaurant that had failed to notate on its
menu that the chili recipe contained peanut oil. An unsuspecting
patron had died of anaphylactic shock at the table after a single
bite. "Legaludec is probably a live-in here to avoid getting picked
up." The examiner looked amused. "His lucky night." Collet sighed.
"All right, you better forward this info to Captain Fache." The
examiner headed off just as another PTS agent burst into the living
room. "Lieutenant! We found something in the barn." From the
anxious look on the agent's face, Collet could only guess. "A body."
"No, sir. Something more..." He hesitated. "Unexpected." Rubbing
his eyes, Collet followed the agent out to the barn. As they entered
the musty, cavernous space, the agent motioned toward the center
of the room, where a wooden ladder now ascended high into the
rafters, propped against the ledge of a hayloft suspended high
above them. "That ladder wasn't there earlier," Collet said. "No, sir.
I set that up. We were dusting for prints near the Rolls when I saw
the ladder lying on the floor. I wouldn't have given it a second
thought except the rungs were worn and muddy. This ladder gets
regular use. The height of the hayloft matched the ladder, so I
raised it and climbed up to have a look."
Collet's eyes climbed the ladder's steep incline to the soaring
hayloft. Someone goes up there regularly? From down here, the loft
appeared to be a deserted platform, and yet admittedly most of it
was invisible from this line of sight. A senior PTS agent appeared at
the top of the ladder, looking down. "You'll definitely want to see
this, Lieutenant," he said, waving Collet up with a latex-gloved hand.
Nodding tiredly, Collet walked over to the base of the old ladder
and grasped the bottom rungs. The ladder was an antique tapered
design and narrowed as Collet ascended. As he neared the top,
Collet almost lost his footing on a thin rung. The barn below him
spun. Alert now, he moved on, finally reaching the top. The agent
above him reached out, offering his wrist. Collet grabbed it and
made the awkward transition onto the platform. "It's over there,"
the PTS agent said, pointing deep into the immaculately clean loft.
"Only one set of prints up here. We'll have an ID shortly." Collet
squinted through the dim light toward the far wall. What the hell?
Nestled against the far wall sat an elaborate computer
workstationtwo tower CPUs, a flat-screen video monitor with
speakers, an array of hard drives, and a multichannel audio console
that appeared to have its own filtered power supply. Why in the
world would anyone work all the way up here? Collet moved toward
the gear. "Have you examined the system?" "It's a listening post."
Collet spun. "Surveillance?" The agent nodded. "Very advanced
surveillance." He motioned to a long project table strewn with
electronic parts, manuals, tools, wires, soldering irons, and other
electronic components. "Someone clearly knows what he's doing. A
lot of this gear is as sophisticated as our own equipment. Miniature
microphones, photoelectric recharging cells, high-capacity RAM
chips. He's even got some of those new nano drives." Collet was
impressed. "Here's a complete system," the agent said, handing
Collet an assembly not much larger than a pocket calculator.
Dangling off the contraption was a foot-long wire with a stamp-
sized piece of wafer-thin foil stuck on the end. "The base is a high-
capacity hard disk audio recording system with rechargeable
battery. That strip of foil at the end of the wire is a combination
microphone and photoelectric recharging cell." Collet knew them
well. These foil-like, photocell microphones had been an enormous
breakthrough a few years back. Now, a hard disk recorder could be
affixed behind a lamp, for example, with its foil microphone molded
into the contour of the base and dyed to match. As long as the
microphone was positioned such that it received a few hours of
sunlight per day, the photo cells would keep recharging the system.
Bugs like this one could listen indefinitely. "Reception method?"
Collet asked. The agent signaled to an insulated wire that ran out of
the back of the computer, up the wall, through a hole in the barn
roof. "Simple radio wave. Small antenna on the roof." Collet knew
these recording systems were generally placed in offices, were
voice-activated to save hard disk space, and recorded snippets of
conversation during the day, transmitting compressed audio files at
night to avoid detection. After transmitting, the hard drive erased
itself and prepared to do it all over again the next day.
Collet's gaze moved now to a shelf on which were stacked several
cassettes, all labeled with dates and numbers. Someone has been
very busy. He turned
back to the agent. "Do you have any idea what target is being
"Well, Lieutenant," the agent said, walking to the computer and
launching a piece of
software. "It's the strangest thing...."
Langdon felt utterly spent as he and Sophie hurdled a turnstile at
the Temple tube station
and dashed deep into the grimy labyrinth of tunnels and platforms.
The guilt ripped
I involved Leigh, and now he's in enormous danger.
Rémy's involvement had been a shock, and yet it made sense.
Whoever was pursuing the
Grail had recruited someone on the inside. They went to Teabing's
for the same reason I
did. Throughout history, those who held knowledge of the Grail had
magnets for thieves and scholars alike. The fact that Teabing had
been a target all along
should have made Langdon feel less guilty about involving him. It did
not. We need to
find Leigh and help him. Immediately.
Langdon followed Sophie to the westbound District and Circle Line
platform, where she
hurried to a pay phone to call the police, despite Rémy's warning to
Langdon sat on a grungy bench nearby, feeling remorseful.
"The best way to help Leigh," Sophie reiterated as she dialed, "is to
involve the London
authorities immediately. Trust me."
Langdon had not initially agreed with this idea, but as they had
hatched their plan,
Sophie's logic began to make sense. Teabing was safe at the
moment. Even if Rémy and
the others knew where the knight's tomb was located, they still
might need Teabing's help
deciphering the orb reference. What worried Langdon was what
would happen after the
Grail map had been found. Leigh will become a huge liability.
If Langdon were to have any chance of helping Leigh, or of ever
seeing the keystone
again, it was essential that he find the tomb first. Unfortunately,
Rémy has a big head
Slowing Rémy down had become Sophie's task.
Finding the right tomb had become Langdon's.
Sophie would make Rémy and Silas fugitives of the London police,
forcing them into
hiding or, better yet, catching them. Langdon's plan was less
certainto take the tube to
nearby King's College, which was renowned for its electronic
theological database. The
ultimate research tool, Langdon had heard. Instant answers to any
question. He wondered what the database would have to say about
"a knight a Pope
He stood up and paced, wishing the train would hurry.
At the pay phone, Sophie's call finally connected to the London
"Snow Hill Division," the dispatcher said. "How may I direct your
"I'm reporting a kidnapping." Sophie knew to be concise.
Sophie paused. "Agent Sophie Neveu with the French Judicial
The title had the desired effect. "Right away, ma'am. Let me get a
detective on the line for you." As the call went through, Sophie
began wondering if the police would even believe her description of
Teabing's captors. A man in a tuxedo. How much easier to identify
could a suspect be? Even if Rémy changed clothes, he was partnered
with an albino monk. Impossible to miss. Moreover, they had a
hostage and could not take public transportation. She wondered how
many Jaguar stretch limos there could be in London. Sophie's
connection to the detective seemed to be taking forever. Come on!
She could hear the line clicking and buzzing, as if she was being
transferred. Fifteen seconds passed. Finally a man came on the line.
"Agent Neveu?" Stunned, Sophie registered the gruff tone
immediately. "Agent Neveu," Bezu Fache demanded. "Where the hell
are you?" Sophie was speechless. Captain Fache had apparently
requested the London police dispatcher alert him if Sophie called in.
"Listen," Fache said, speaking to her in terse French. "I made a
terrible mistake tonight. Robert Langdon is innocent. All charges
against him have been dropped. Even so, both of you are in danger.
You need to come in." Sophie's jaw fell slack. She had no idea how to
respond. Fache was not a man who apologized for anything. "You did
not tell me," Fache continued, "that Jacques Saunière was your
grandfather. I fully intend to overlook your insubordination last
night on account of the emotional stress you must be under. At the
moment, however, you and Langdon need to go to the nearest London
police headquarters for refuge." He knows I'm in London? What
else does Fache know? Sophie heard what sounded like drilling or
machinery in the background. She also heard an odd clicking on the
line. "Are you tracing this call, Captain?" Fache's voice was firm now.
"You and I need to cooperate, Agent Neveu. We both have a lot to
lose here. This is damage control. I made errors in judgment last
night, and if those errors result in the deaths of an American
professor and a DCPJ cryptologist, my career will be over. I've been
trying to pull you back into safety for the last several hours." A
warm wind was now pushing through the station as a train
approached with a low rumble. Sophie had every intention of being
on it. Langdon apparently had the same idea; he was gathering
himself together and moving toward her now. "The man you want is
Rémy Legaludec," Sophie said. "He is Teabing's servant. He just
kidnapped Teabing inside the Temple Church and" "Agent Neveu!"
Fache bellowed as the train thundered into the station. "This is not
something to discuss on an open line. You and Langdon will come in
now. For your own well-being! That is a direct order!" Sophie hung up
and dashed with Langdon onto the train.
The immaculate cabin of Teabing's Hawker was now covered with
steel shavings and smelled of compressed air and propane. Bezu
Fache had sent everyone away and sat alone with his drink and the
heavy wooden box found in Teabing's safe.
Running his finger across the inlaid Rose, he lifted the ornate lid.
Inside he found a stone cylinder with lettered dials. The five dials
were arranged to spell SOFIA. Fache stared at the word a long
moment and then lifted the cylinder from its padded resting place
and examined every inch. Then, pulling slowly on the ends, Fache slid
off one of the end caps. The cylinder was empty. Fache set it back
in the box and gazed absently out the jet's window at the hangar,
pondering his brief conversation with Sophie, as well as the
information he'd received from PTS in Château Villette. The sound
of his phone shook him from his daydream. It was the DCPJ
switchboard. The dispatcher was apologetic. The president of the
Depository Bank of Zurich had been calling repeatedly, and although
he had been told several times that the captain was in London on
business, he just kept calling. Begrudgingly Fache told the operator
to forward the call. "Monsieur Vernet," Fache said, before the man
could even speak, "I am sorry I did not call you earlier. I have been
busy. As promised, the name of your bank has not appeared in the
media. So what precisely is your concern?" Vernet's voice was
anxious as he told Fache how Langdon and Sophie had extracted a
small wooden box from the bank and then persuaded Vernet to help
them escape. "Then when I heard on the radio that they were
criminals," Vernet said, "I pulled over and demanded the box back,
but they attacked me and stole the truck." "You are concerned for a
wooden box," Fache said, eyeing the Rose inlay on the cover and
again gently opening the lid to reveal the white cylinder. "Can you
tell me what was in the box?" "The contents are immaterial," Vernet
fired back. "I am concerned with the reputation of my bank. We
have never had a robbery. Ever. It will ruin us if I cannot recover
this property on behalf of my client." "You said Agent Neveu and
Robert Langdon had a password and a key. What makes you say they
stole the box?" "They murdered people tonight. Including Sophie
Neveu's grandfather. The key and password were obviously ill-
gotten." "Mr. Vernet, my men have done some checking into your
background and your interests. You are obviously a man of great
culture and refinement. I would imagine you are a man of honor, as
well. As am I. That said, I give you my word as commanding officer
of the Police Judiciaire that your box, along with your bank's
reputation, are in the safest of hands."
High in the hayloft at Château Villette, Collet stared at the
computer monitor in amazement. "This system is eavesdropping on
all these locations?" "Yes," the agent said. "It looks like data has
been collected for over a year now." Collet read the list again,
speechless. COLBERT SOSTAQUEChairman of the Conseil
Constitutionnel JEAN CHAFFÉECurator, Musée du Jeu de Paume
EDOUARD DESROCHERSSenior Archivist, Mitterrand Library
JACQUES SAUNIÈRECurator, Musée du Louvre MICHEL
BRETONHead of DAS (French Intelligence) The agent pointed to
the screen. "Number four is of obvious concern."
Collet nodded blankly. He had noticed it immediately. Jacques
Saunière was being bugged. He looked at the rest of the list again.
How could anyone possibly manage to bug these prominent people?
"Have you heard any of the audio files?" "A few. Here's one of the
most recent." The agent clicked a few computer keys. The speakers
crackled to life. "Capitaine, un agent du Département de
Cryptographie est arrivé." Collet could not believe his ears. "That's
me! That's my voice!" He recalled sitting at Saunière's desk and
radioing Fache in the Grand Gallery to alert him of Sophie Neveu's
arrival. The agent nodded. "A lot of our Louvre investigation tonight
would have been audible if someone had been interested." "Have you
sent anyone in to sweep for the bug?" "No need. I know exactly
where it is." The agent went to a pile of old notes and blueprints on
the worktable. He selected a page and handed it to Collet. "Look
familiar?" Collet was amazed. He was holding a photocopy of an
ancient schematic diagram, which depicted a rudimentary machine.
He was unable to read the handwritten Italian labels, and yet he
knew what he was looking at. A model for a fully articulated
medieval French knight. The knight sitting on Saunière's desk!
Collet's eyes moved to the margins, where someone had scribbled
notes on the photocopy in red felt-tipped marker. The notes were in
French and appeared to be ideas outlining how best to insert a
listening device into the knight.
Silas sat in the passenger seat of the parked Jaguar limousine near
the Temple Church. His hands felt damp on the keystone as he
waited for Rémy to finish tying and gagging Teabing in back with the
rope they had found in the trunk. Finally, Rémy climbed out of the
rear of the limo, walked around, and slid into the driver's seat
beside Silas. "Secure?" Silas asked. Rémy chuckled, shaking off the
rain and glancing over his shoulder through the open partition at the
crumpled form of Leigh Teabing, who was barely visible in the
shadows in the rear. "He's not going anywhere." Silas could hear
Teabing's muffled cries and realized Rémy had used some of the old
duct tape to gag him. "Ferme ta gueule!" Rémy shouted over his
shoulder at Teabing. Reaching to a control panel on the elaborate
dash, Rémy pressed a button. An opaque partition raised behind
them, sealing off the back. Teabing disappeared, and his voice was
silenced. Rémy glanced at Silas. "I've been listening to his miserable
whimpering long enough."
Minutes later, as the Jaguar stretch limo powered through the
streets, Silas's cell phone rang. The Teacher. He answered
excitedly. "Hello?" "Silas," the Teacher's familiar French accent
said, "I am relieved to hear your voice. This means you are safe."
Silas was equally comforted to hear the Teacher. It had been hours,
and the operation had
veered wildly off course. Now, at last, it seemed to be back on
track. "I have the
"This is superb news," the Teacher told him. "Is Rémy with you?"
Silas was surprised to hear the Teacher use Rémy's name. "Yes.
Rémy freed me."
"As I ordered him to do. I am only sorry you had to endure captivity
for so long."
"Physical discomfort has no meaning. The important thing is that the
keystone is ours."
"Yes. I need it delivered to me at once. Time is of the essence."
Silas was eager to meet the Teacher face-to-face at last. "Yes, sir,
I would be honored."
"Silas, I would like Rémy to bring it to me."
Rémy? Silas was crestfallen. After everything Silas had done for
the Teacher, he had
believed he would be the one to hand over the prize. The Teacher
"I sense your disappointment," the Teacher said, "which tells me you
do not understand
my meaning." He lowered his voice to a whisper. "You must believe
that I would much
prefer to receive the keystone from youa man of God rather than a
must be dealt with. He disobeyed my orders and made a grave
mistake that has put our
entire mission at risk."
Silas felt a chill and glanced over at Rémy. Kidnapping Teabing had
not been part of the
plan, and deciding what to do with him posed a new problem.
"You and I are men of God," the Teacher whispered. "We cannot be
deterred from our
goal." There was an ominous pause on the line. "For this reason alone,
I will ask Rémy to
bring me the keystone. Do you understand?"
Silas sensed anger in the Teacher's voice and was surprised the man
was not more
understanding. Showing his face could not be avoided, Silas thought.
Rémy did what he
had to do. He saved the keystone. "I understand," Silas managed.
"Good. For your own safety, you need to get off the street
immediately. The police will
be looking for the limousine soon, and I do not want you caught.
Opus Dei has a
residence in London, no?"
"And you are welcome there?"
"As a brother."
"Then go there and stay out of sight. I will call you the moment I am
in possession of the
keystone and have attended to my current problem."
"You are in London?"
"Do as I say, and everything will be fine."
The Teacher heaved a sigh, as if what he now had to do was
profoundly regrettable. "It's
time I speak to Rémy."
Silas handed Rémy the phone, sensing it might be the last call Rémy
Legaludec ever took.
As Rémy took the phone, he knew this poor, twisted monk had no
idea what fate awaited
him now that he had served his purpose.
The Teacher used you, Silas.
And your bishop is a pawn.
Rémy still marveled at the Teacher's powers of persuasion. Bishop
trusted everything. He had been blinded by his own desperation.
Aringarosa was far too
eager to believe. Although Rémy did not particularly like the
Teacher, he felt pride at having gained the man's trust and helped
him so substantially. I have earned my payday. "Listen carefully,"
the Teacher said. "Take Silas to the Opus Dei residence hall and
drop him off a few streets away. Then drive to St. James's Park. It
is adjacent to Parliament and Big Ben. You can park the limousine on
Horse Guards Parade. We'll talk there." With that, the connection
King's College, established by King George IV in 1829, houses its
Department of Theology and Religious Studies adjacent to
Parliament on property granted by the Crown. King's College Religion
Department boasts not only 150 years' experience in teaching and
research, but the 1982 establishment of the Research Institute in
Systematic Theology, which possesses one of the most complete and
electronically advanced religious research libraries in the world.
Langdon still felt shaky as he and Sophie came in from the rain and
entered the library. The primary research room was as Teabing had
described ita dramatic octagonal chamber dominated by an
enormous round table around which King Arthur and his knights
might have been comfortable were it not for the presence of twelve
flat-screen computer workstations. On the far side of the room, a
reference librarian was just pouring a pot of tea and settling in for
her day of work. "Lovely morning," she said in a cheerful British
accent, leaving the tea and walking over. "May I help you?" "Thank
you, yes," Langdon replied. "My name is" "Robert Langdon." She gave
a pleasant smile. "I know who you are." For an instant, he feared
Fache had put him on English television as well, but the librarian's
smile suggested otherwise. Langdon still had not gotten used to
these moments of unexpected celebrity. Then again, if anyone on
earth were going to recognize his face, it would be a librarian in a
Religious Studies reference facility. "Pamela Gettum," the librarian
said, offering her hand. She had a genial, erudite face and a
pleasingly fluid voice. The horn-rimmed glasses hanging around her
neck were thick. "A pleasure," Langdon said. "This is my friend
Sophie Neveu." The two women greeted one another, and Gettum
turned immediately back to Langdon. "I didn't know you were
coming." "Neither did we. If it's not too much trouble, we could
really use your help finding some information." Gettum shifted,
looking uncertain. "Normally our services are by petition and
appointment only, unless of course you're the guest of someone at
the college?" Langdon shook his head. "I'm afraid we've come
unannounced. A friend of mine speaks very highly of you. Sir Leigh
Teabing?" Langdon felt a pang of gloom as he said the name. "The
British Royal Historian." Gettum brightened now, laughing. "Heavens,
yes. What a character. Fanatical! Every time he comes in, it's always
the same search strings. Grail. Grail. Grail. I swear that man will die
before he gives up on that quest." She winked. "Time and money
afford one such lovely luxuries, wouldn't you say? A regular Don
Quixote, that one." "Is there any chance you can help us?" Sophie
asked. "It's quite important."
Gettum glanced around the deserted library and then winked at
them both. "Well, I can't
very well claim I'm too busy, now can I? As long as you sign in, I
can't imagine anyone
being too upset. What did you have in mind?"
"We're trying to find a tomb in London."
Gettum looked dubious. "We've got about twenty thousand of them.
Can you be a little
"It's the tomb of a knight. We don't have a name."
"A knight. That tightens the net substantially. Much less common."
"We don't have much information about the knight we're looking
for," Sophie said, "but
this is what we know." She produced a slip of paper on which she
had written only the
first two lines of the poem.
Hesitant to show the entire poem to an outsider, Langdon and
Sophie had decided to
share just the first two lines, those that identified the knight.
cryptography, Sophie had called it. When an intelligence agency
intercepted a code
containing sensitive data, cryptographers each worked on a discrete
section of the code.
This way, when they broke it, no single cryptographer possessed the
In this case, the precaution was probably excessive; even if this
librarian saw the entire
poem, identified the knight's tomb, and knew what orb was missing,
the information was
useless without the cryptex.
Gettum sensed an urgency in the eyes of this famed American
scholar, almost as if his
finding this tomb quickly were a matter of critical importance. The
accompanying him also seemed anxious.
Puzzled, Gettum put on her glasses and examined the paper they
had just handed her.
In London lies a knight a Pope interred.
His labor's fruit a Holy wrath incurred.
She glanced at her guests. "What is this? Some kind of Harvard
Langdon's laugh sounded forced. "Yeah, something like that."
Gettum paused, feeling she was not getting the whole story.
Nonetheless, she felt
intrigued and found herself pondering the verse carefully.
"According to this rhyme, a
knight did something that incurred displeasure with God, and yet a
Pope was kind enough
to bury him in London."
Langdon nodded. "Does it ring any bells?"
Gettum moved toward one of the workstations. "Not offhand, but
let's see what we can
pull up in the database."
Over the past two decades, King's College Research Institute in
Systematic Theology had
used optical character recognition software in unison with linguistic
translation devices to
digitize and catalog an enormous collection of textsencyclopedias of
biographies, sacred scriptures in dozens of languages, histories,
Vatican letters, diaries of
clerics, anything at all that qualified as writings on human
spirituality. Because the
massive collection was now in the form of bits and bytes rather than
physical pages, the
data was infinitely more accessible.
Settling into one of the workstations, Gettum eyed the slip of paper
and began typing.
"To begin, we'll run a straight Boolean with a few obvious keywords
and see what
Gettum typed in a few words:
LONDON, KNIGHT, POPE
As she clicked the SEARCH button, she could feel the hum of the
downstairs scanning data at a rate of 500 MB/sec. "I'm asking the
system to show us any
documents whose complete text contains all three of these
keywords. We'll get more hits
than we want, but it's a good place to start."
The screen was already showing the first of the hits now.
Painting the Pope. The Collected Portraits of Sir Joshua Reynolds.
Gettum shook her head. "Obviously not what you're looking for."
She scrolled to the next
The London Writings of Alexander Pope by G. Wilson Knight.
Again she shook her head.
As the system churned on, the hits came up more quickly than usual.
Dozens of texts
appeared, many of them referencing the eighteenth-century British
writer Alexander Pope,
whose counterreligious, mock-epic poetry apparently contained
plenty of references to
knights and London.
Gettum shot a quick glance to the numeric field at the bottom of
the screen. This
computer, by calculating the current number of hits and multiplying
by the percentage of
the database left to search, provided a rough guess of how much
information would be
found. This particular search looked like it was going to return an
obscenely large amount
Estimated number of total hits: 2,692
"We need to refine the parameters further," Gettum said, stopping
the search. "Is this all
the information you have regarding the tomb? There's nothing else
to go on?"
Langdon glanced at Sophie Neveu, looking uncertain.
This is no scavenger hunt, Gettum sensed. She had heard the
whisperings of Robert
Langdon's experience in Rome last year. This American had been
granted access to the
most secure library on earththe Vatican Secret Archives. She
wondered what kinds of
secrets Langdon might have learned inside and if his current
desperate hunt for a
mysterious London tomb might relate to information he had gained
within the Vatican.
Gettum had been a librarian long enough to know the most common
reason people came
to London to look for knights. The Grail.
Gettum smiled and adjusted her glasses. "You are friends with Leigh
Teabing, you are in
England, and you are looking for a knight." She folded her hands. "I
can only assume you
are on a Grail quest."
Langdon and Sophie exchanged startled looks.
Gettum laughed. "My friends, this library is a base camp for Grail
seekers. Leigh Teabing
among them. I wish I had a shilling for every time I'd run searches
for the Rose, Mary
Magdalene, Sangreal, Merovingian, Priory of Sion, et cetera, et
cetera. Everyone loves a
conspiracy." She took off her glasses and eyed them. "I need more
In the silence, Gettum sensed her guests' desire for discretion was
outweighed by their eagerness for a fast result.
"Here," Sophie Neveu blurted. "This is everything we know."
Borrowing a pen from
Langdon, she wrote two more lines on the slip of paper and handed it
You seek the orb that ought be on his tomb.
It speaks of Rosy flesh and seeded womb.
Gettum gave an inward smile. The Grail indeed, she thought, noting
the references to the
Rose and her seeded womb. "I can help you," she said, looking up
from the slip of paper.
"Might I ask where this verse came from? And why you are seeking
"You might ask," Langdon said, with a friendly smile, "but it's a long
story and we have
very little time."
"Sounds like a polite way of saying 'mind your own business.' "
"We would be forever in your debt, Pamela," Langdon said, "if you
could find out who
this knight is and where he is buried."
"Very well," Gettum said, typing again. "I'll play along. If this is a
Grail-related issue, we
should cross-reference against Grail keywords. I'll add a proximity
parameter and remove
the title weighting. That will limit our hits only to those instances of
that occur near a Grail-related word."
Search for: KNIGHT, LONDON, POPE, TOMB
Within 100 word proximity of: GRAIL, ROSE, SANGREAL, CHALICE
"How long will this take?" Sophie asked.
"A few hundred terabytes with multiple cross-referencing fields?"
glimmered as she clicked the SEARCH key. "A mere fifteen
Langdon and Sophie said nothing, but Gettum sensed this sounded
like an eternity to
"Tea?" Gettum asked, standing and walking toward the pot she had
made earlier. "Leigh
always loves my tea."
London's Opus Dei Centre is a modest brick building at 5 Orme
Court, overlooking the
North Walk at Kensington Gardens. Silas had never been here, but
he felt a rising sense
of refuge and asylum as he approached the building on foot. Despite
the rain, Rémy had
dropped him off a short distance away in order to keep the
limousine off the main streets.
Silas didn't mind the walk. The rain was cleansing.
At Rémy's suggestion, Silas had wiped down his gun and disposed of
it through a sewer
grate. He was glad to get rid of it. He felt lighter. His legs still
ached from being bound
all that time, but Silas had endured far greater pain. He wondered,
though, about Teabing,
whom Rémy had left bound in the back of the limousine. The Briton
certainly had to be
feeling the pain by now.
"What will you do with him?" Silas had asked Rémy as they drove
Rémy had shrugged. "That is a decision for the Teacher." There was
an odd finality in his
Now, as Silas approached the Opus Dei building, the rain began to
fall harder, soaking
his heavy robe, stinging the wounds of the day before. He was ready
to leave behind the
sins of the last twenty-four hours and purge his soul. His work was
Moving across a small courtyard to the front door, Silas was not
surprised to find the
door unlocked. He opened it and stepped into the minimalist foyer. A
chime sounded upstairs as Silas stepped onto the carpet. The bell
was a common feature
in these halls where the residents spent most of the day in their
rooms in prayer. Silas
could hear movement above on the creaky wood floors.
A man in a cloak came downstairs. "May I help you?" He had kind
eyes that seemed not
even to register Silas's startling physical appearance.
"Thank you. My name is Silas. I am an Opus Dei numerary."
Silas nodded. "I am in town only for the day. Might I rest here?"
"You need not even ask. There are two empty rooms on the third
floor. Shall I bring you
some tea and bread?"
"Thank you." Silas was famished.
Silas went upstairs to a modest room with a window, where he took
off his wet robe and
knelt down to pray in his undergarments. He heard his host come up
and lay a tray
outside his door. Silas finished his prayers, ate his food, and lay
down to sleep.
Three stories below, a phone was ringing. The Opus Dei numerary
who had welcomed
Silas answered the line.
"This is the London police," the caller said. "We are trying to find an
albino monk. We've
had a tip-off that he might be there. Have you seen him?"
The numerary was startled. "Yes, he is here. Is something wrong?"
"He is there now?"
"Yes, upstairs praying. What is going on?"
"Leave him precisely where he is," the officer commanded. "Don't
say a word to anyone.
I'm sending officers over right away."
St. James's Park is a sea of green in the middle of London, a public
park bordering the
palaces of Westminster, Buckingham, and St. James's. Once
enclosed by King Henry
VIII and stocked with deer for the hunt, St. James's Park is now
open to the public. On
sunny afternoons, Londoners picnic beneath the willows and feed
the pond's resident
pelicans, whose ancestors were a gift to Charles II from the
The Teacher saw no pelicans today. The stormy weather had
brought instead seagulls
from the ocean. The lawns were covered with themhundreds of
white bodies all facing
the same direction, patiently riding out the damp wind. Despite the
morning fog, the park
afforded splendid views of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.
Gazing across the
sloping lawns, past the duck pond and the delicate silhouettes of the
weeping willows, the
Teacher could see the spires of the building that housed the
knight's tombthe real reason
he had told Rémy to come to this spot.
As the Teacher approached the front passenger door of the parked
leaned across and opened the door. The Teacher paused outside,
taking a pull from the
flask of cognac he was carrying. Then, dabbing his mouth, he slid in
beside Rémy and
closed the door.
Rémy held up the keystone like a trophy. "It was almost lost."
"You have done well," the Teacher said.
"We have done well," Rémy replied, laying the keystone in the
Teacher's eager hands.
The Teacher admired it a long moment, smiling. "And the gun? You
wiped it down?"
"Back in the glove box where I found it."
"Excellent." The Teacher took another drink of cognac and handed
the flask to Rémy.
"Let's toast our success. The end is near."
Rémy accepted the bottle gratefully. The cognac tasted salty, but
Rémy didn't care. He
and the Teacher were truly partners now. He could feel himself
ascending to a higher
station in life. I will never be a servant again. As Rémy gazed down
the embankment at
the duck pond below, Château Villette seemed miles away.
Taking another swig from the flask, Rémy could feel the cognac
warming his blood. The
warmth in Rémy's throat, however, mutated quickly to an
uncomfortable heat. Loosening
his bow tie, Rémy tasted an unpleasant grittiness and handed the
flask back to the
Teacher. "I've probably had enough," he managed, weakly.
Taking the flask, the Teacher said, "Rémy, as you are aware, you are
the only one who
knows my face. I placed enormous trust in you."
"Yes," he said, feeling feverish as he loosened his tie further. "And
your identity shall go
with me to the grave."
The Teacher was silent a long moment. "I believe you." Pocketing the
flask and the
keystone, the Teacher reached for the glove box and pulled out the
tiny Medusa revolver.
For an instant, Rémy felt a surge of fear, but the Teacher simply
slipped it in his trousers
What is he doing? Rémy felt himself sweating suddenly.
"I know I promised you freedom," the Teacher said, his voice now
"But considering your circumstances, this is the best I can do."
The swelling in Rémy's throat came on like an earthquake, and he
lurched against the
steering column, grabbing his throat and tasting vomit in his
narrowing esophagus. He let
out a muted croak of a scream, not even loud enough to be heard
outside the car. The
saltiness in the cognac now registered.
I'm being murdered!
Incredulous, Rémy turned to see the Teacher sitting calmly beside
him, staring straight
ahead out the windshield. Rémy's eyesight blurred, and he gasped
for breath. I made
everything possible for him! How could he do this! Whether the
Teacher had intended to
kill Rémy all along or whether it had been Rémy's actions in the
Temple Church that had
made the Teacher lose faith, Rémy would never know. Terror and
rage coursed through
him now. Rémy tried to lunge for the Teacher, but his stiffening
body could barely move.
I trusted you with everything!
Rémy tried to lift his clenched fists to blow the horn, but instead
he slipped sideways,
rolling onto the seat, lying on his side beside the Teacher, clutching
at his throat. The rain
fell harder now. Rémy could no longer see, but he could sense his
straining to cling to his last faint shreds of lucidity. As his world
slowly went black, Rémy Legaludec could have sworn he heard the
sounds of the soft Riviera surf.
The Teacher stepped from the limousine, pleased to see that
nobody was looking in his direction. I had no choice, he told himself,
surprised how little remorse he felt for what he had just done.
Rémy sealed his own fate. The Teacher had feared all along that
Rémy might need to be eliminated when the mission was complete,
but by brazenly showing himself in the Temple Church, Rémy had
accelerated the necessity dramatically. Robert Langdon's
unexpected visit to Château Villette had brought the Teacher both
a fortuitous windfall and an intricate dilemma. Langdon had
delivered the keystone directly to the heart of the operation, which
was a pleasant surprise, and yet he had brought the police on his
tail. Rémy's prints were all over Château Villette, as well as in the
barn's listening post, where Rémy had carried out the surveillance.
The Teacher was grateful he had taken so much care in preventing
any ties between Rémy's activities and his own. Nobody could
implicate the Teacher unless Rémy talked, and that was no longer a
concern. One more loose end to tie up here, the Teacher thought,
moving now toward the rear door of the limousine. The police will
have no idea what happened... and no living witness left to tell them.
Glancing around to ensure nobody was watching, he pulled open the
door and climbed into the spacious rear compartment.
Minutes later, the Teacher was crossing St. James's Park. Only two
people now remain. Langdon and Neveu. They were more complicated.
But manageable. At the moment, however, the Teacher had the
cryptex to attend to. Gazing triumphantly across the park, he could
see his destination. In London lies a knight a Pope interred. As soon
as the Teacher had heard the poem, he had known the answer. Even
so, that the others had not figured it out was not surprising. I have
an unfair advantage. Having listened to Saunière's conversations for
months now, the Teacher had heard the Grand Master mention this
famous knight on occasion, expressing esteem almost matching that
he held for Da Vinci. The poem's reference to the knight was
brutally simple once one saw ita credit to Saunière's witand yet how
this tomb would reveal the final password was still a mystery. You
seek the orb that ought be on his tomb. The Teacher vaguely
recalled photos of the famous tomb and, in particular, its most
distinguishing feature. A magnificent orb. The huge sphere mounted
atop the tomb was almost as large as the tomb itself. The presence
of the orb seemed both encouraging and troubling to the Teacher.
On one hand, it felt like a signpost, and yet, according to the poem,
the missing piece of the puzzle was an orb that ought to be on his
tomb... not one that was already there. He was counting on his closer
inspection of the tomb to unveil the answer. The rain was getting
heavier now, and he tucked the cryptex deep in his right-hand
pocket to protect it from the dampness. He kept the tiny Medusa
revolver in his left, out of sight. Within minutes, he was stepping
into the quiet sanctuary of London's grandest nine-hundred-year-
Just as the Teacher was stepping out of the rain, Bishop Aringarosa
was stepping into it.
On the rainy tarmac at Biggin Hill Executive Airport, Aringarosa
emerged from his
cramped plane, bundling his cassock against the cold damp. He had
hoped to be greeted
by Captain Fache. Instead a young British police officer approached
with an umbrella.
"Bishop Aringarosa? Captain Fache had to leave. He asked me to look
after you. He
suggested I take you to Scotland Yard. He thought it would be
Safest? Aringarosa looked down at the heavy briefcase of Vatican
bonds clutched in his
hand. He had almost forgotten. "Yes, thank you."
Aringarosa climbed into the police car, wondering where Silas could
be. Minutes later,
the police scanner crackled with the answer.
5 Orme Court.
Aringarosa recognized the address instantly.
The Opus Dei Centre in London.
He spun to the driver. "Take me there at once!"
Langdon's eyes had not left the computer screen since the search
Five minutes. Only two hits. Both irrelevant.
He was starting to get worried.
Pamela Gettum was in the adjoining room, preparing hot drinks.
Langdon and Sophie had
inquired unwisely if there might be some coffee brewing alongside
the tea Gettum had
offered, and from the sound of the microwave beeps in the next
room, Langdon suspected
their request was about to be rewarded with instant Nescafe.
Finally, the computer pinged happily.
"Sounds like you got another," Gettum called from the next room.
"What's the title?"
Langdon eyed the screen.
Grail Allegory in Medieval Literature: A Treatise on Sir Gawain and
the Green Knight.
"Allegory of the Green Knight," he called back.
"No good," Gettum said. "Not many mythological green giants buried
Langdon and Sophie sat patiently in front of the screen and waited
through two more
dubious returns. When the computer pinged again, though, the
offering was unexpected.
DIE OPERN VON RICHARD WAGNER
"The operas of Wagner?" Sophie asked.
Gettum peeked back in the doorway, holding a packet of instant
coffee. "That seems like
a strange match. Was Wagner a knight?"
"No," Langdon said, feeling a sudden intrigue. "But he was a well-
Along with Mozart, Beethoven, Shakespeare, Gershwin, Houdini, and
had been written about the ties between the Masons and the
Knights Templar, the Priory
of Sion, and the Holy Grail. "I want to look at this one. How do I see
the full text?"
"You don't want the full text," Gettum called. "Click on the
hypertext title. The computer
will display your keyword hits along with mono prelogs and triple
postlogs for context."
Langdon had no idea what she had just said, but he clicked anyway.
A new window popped up.
...mythological knight named Parsifal who...
...metaphorical Grail quest that arguably...
...the London Philharmonic in 1855...
Rebecca Pope's opera anthology "Diva's...
...Wagner's tomb in Bayreuth, Germany...
"Wrong Pope," Langdon said, disappointed. Even so, he was amazed
by the system's ease
of use. The keywords with context were enough to remind him that
Parsifal was a tribute to Mary Magdalene and the bloodline of Jesus
Christ, told through
the story of a young knight on a quest for truth.
"Just be patient," Gettum urged. "It's a numbers game. Let the
Over the next few minutes, the computer returned several more
including a text about troubadoursFrance's famous wandering
minstrels. Langdon knew it
was no coincidence that the word minstrel and minister shared an
etymological root. The
troubadours were the traveling servants or "ministers" of the
Church of Mary Magdalene,
using music to disseminate the story of the sacred feminine among
the common folk. To
this day, the troubadours sang songs extolling the virtues of "our
Lady"a mysterious and
beautiful woman to whom they pledged themselves forever.
Eagerly, he checked the hypertext but found nothing.
The computer pinged again.
KNIGHTS, KNAVES, POPES, AND PENTACLES: THE HISTORY OF
GRAIL THROUGH TAROT
"Not surprising," Langdon said to Sophie. "Some of our keywords
have the same names
as individual cards." He reached for the mouse to click on a
hyperlink. "I'm not sure if
your grandfather ever mentioned it when you played Tarot with him,
Sophie, but this
game is a 'flash-card catechism' into the story of the Lost Bride
and her subjugation by
the evil Church."
Sophie eyed him, looking incredulous. "I had no idea."
"That's the point. By teaching through a metaphorical game, the
followers of the Grail
disguised their message from the watchful eye of the Church."
Langdon often wondered
how many modern card players had any clue that their four
suitsspades, hearts, clubs,
diamondswere Grail-related symbols that came directly from
Tarot's four suits of swords,
cups, scepters, and pentacles.
Spades were SwordsThe blade. Male.
Hearts were CupsThe chalice. Feminine.
Clubs were SceptersThe Royal Line. The flowering staff.
Diamonds were PentaclesThe goddess. The sacred feminine.
Four minutes later, as Langdon began feeling fearful they would not
find what they had
come for, the computer produced another hit.
The Gravity of Genius: Biography of a Modern Knight.
"Gravity of Genius?" Langdon called out to Gettum. "Bio of a modern
Gettum stuck her head around the corner. "How modern? Please
don't tell me it's your Sir
Rudy Giuliani. Personally, I found that one a bit off the mark."
Langdon had his own qualms about the newly knighted Sir Mick
Jagger, but this hardly
seemed the moment to debate the politics of modern British
knighthood. "Let's have a
look." Langdon summoned up the hypertext keywords.
... honorable knight, Sir Isaac Newton...
... in London in 1727 and...
... his tomb in Westminster Abbey...
... Alexander Pope, friend and colleague...
"I guess 'modern' is a relative term," Sophie called to Gettum. "It's
an old book. About Sir
Gettum shook her head in the doorway. "No good. Newton was
buried in Westminster
Abbey, the seat of English Protestantism. There's no way a Catholic
Pope was present.
Cream and sugar?"
Gettum waited. "Robert?"
Langdon's heart was hammering. He pulled his eyes from the screen
and stood up. "Sir
Isaac Newton is our knight."
Sophie remained seated. "What are you talking about?"
"Newton is buried in London," Langdon said. "His labors produced
new sciences that
incurred the wrath of the Church. And he was a Grand Master of
the Priory of Sion. What
more could we want?"
"What more?" Sophie pointed to the poem. "How about a knight a
Pope interred? You
heard Ms. Gettum. Newton was not buried by a Catholic Pope."
Langdon reached for the mouse. "Who said anything about a Catholic
Pope?" He clicked
on the "Pope" hyperlink, and the complete sentence appeared.
Sir Isaac Newton's burial, attended by kings and nobles, was
presided over by Alexander
Pope, friend and colleague, who gave a stirring eulogy before
sprinkling dirt on the tomb.
Langdon looked at Sophie. "We had the correct Pope on our second
hit. Alexander." He
paused. "A. Pope."
In London lies a knight A. Pope interred.
Sophie stood up, looking stunned.
Jacques Saunière, the master of double-entendres, had proven once
again that he was a
frighteningly clever man.
Silas awoke with a start.
He had no idea what had awoken him or how long he had been asleep.
Was I dreaming?
Sitting up now on his straw mat, he listened to the quiet breathing
of the Opus Dei
residence hall, the stillness textured only by the soft murmurs of
someone praying aloud
in a room below him. These were familiar sounds and should have
And yet he felt a sudden and unexpected wariness.
Standing, wearing only his undergarments, Silas walked to the
window. Was I followed?
The courtyard below was deserted, exactly as he had seen it when
he entered. He listened.
Silence. So why am I uneasy? Long ago Silas had learned to trust his
had kept him alive as a child on the streets of Marseilles long
before prison... long before
he was born again by the hand of Bishop Aringarosa. Peering out the
window, he now saw the faint outline of a car through the hedge. On
the car's roof was a police siren. A floorboard creaked in the
hallway. A door latch moved. Silas reacted on instinct, surging
across the room and sliding to a stop just behind the door as it
crashed open. The first police officer stormed through, swinging his
gun left then right at what appeared an empty room. Before he
realized where Silas was, Silas had thrown his shoulder into the
door, crushing a second officer as he came through. As the first
officer wheeled to shoot, Silas dove for his legs. The gun went off,
the bullet sailing above Silas's head, just as he connected with the
officer's shins, driving his legs out from under him, and sending the
man down, his head hitting the floor. The second officer staggered
to his feet in the doorway, and Silas drove a knee into his groin,
then went clambering over the writhing body into the hall. Almost
naked, Silas hurled his pale body down the staircase. He knew he
had been betrayed, but by whom? When he reached the foyer, more
officers were surging through the front door. Silas turned the
other way and dashed deeper into the residence hall. The women's
entrance. Every Opus Dei building has one. Winding down narrow
hallways, Silas snaked through a kitchen, past terrified workers,
who left to avoid the naked albino as he knocked over bowls and
silverware, bursting into a dark hallway near the boiler room. He now
saw the door he sought, an exit light gleaming at the end. Running
full speed through the door out into the rain, Silas leapt off the low
landing, not seeing the officer coming the other way until it was too
late. The two men collided, Silas's broad, naked shoulder grinding
into the man's sternum with crushing force. He drove the officer
backward onto the pavement, landing hard on top of him. The
officer's gun clattered away. Silas could hear men running down the
hall shouting. Rolling, he grabbed the loose gun just as the officers
emerged. A shot rang out on the stairs, and Silas felt a searing pain
below his ribs. Filled with rage, he opened fire at all three officers,
their blood spraying. A dark shadow loomed behind, coming out of
nowhere. The angry hands that grabbed at his bare shoulders felt
as if they were infused with the power of the devil himself. The
man roared in his ear. SILAS, NO! Silas spun and fired. Their eyes
met. Silas was already screaming in horror as Bishop Aringarosa fell.
More than three thousand people are entombed or enshrined within
Westminster Abbey. The colossal stone interior burgeons with the
remains of kings, statesmen, scientists, poets, and musicians. Their
tombs, packed into every last niche and alcove, range in grandeur
from the most regal of mausoleumsthat of Queen Elizabeth I,
whose canopied sarcophagus inhabits its own private, apsidal
chapeldown to the most modest etched floor tiles whose
inscriptions have worn away with centuries of foot traffic, leaving it
to one's imagination whose relics might lie below the tile in the
undercroft. Designed in the style of the great cathedrals of
Amiens, Chartres, and Canterbury, Westminster Abbey is
considered neither cathedral nor parish church. It bears the
classification of royal peculiar, subject only to the Sovereign. Since
hosting the coronation of William the Conqueror on Christmas Day in
1066, the dazzling sanctuary has witnessed an endless procession of
royal ceremonies and affairs of statefrom the canonization of
Edward the Confessor, to the marriage of Prince Andrew and Sarah
Ferguson, to the funerals of Henry V, Queen Elizabeth I, and Lady
Diana. Even so, Robert Langdon currently felt no interest in any of
the abbey's ancient history, save one eventthe funeral of the
British knight Sir Isaac Newton. In London lies a knight a Pope
interred. Hurrying through the grand portico on the north transept,
Langdon and Sophie were met by guards who politely ushered them
through the abbey's newest additiona large walkthrough metal
detectornow present in most historic buildings in London. They both
passed through without setting off the alarm and continued to the
abbey entrance. Stepping across the threshold into Westminster
Abbey, Langdon felt the outside world evaporate with a sudden
hush. No rumble of traffic. No hiss of rain. Just a deafening silence,
which seemed to reverberate back and forth as if the building were
whispering to itself. Langdon's and Sophie's eyes, like those of
almost every visitor, shifted immediately skyward, where the
abbey's great abyss seemed to explode overhead. Gray stone
columns ascended like redwoods into the shadows, arching
gracefully over dizzying expanses, and then shooting back down to
the stone floor. Before them, the wide alley of the north transept
stretched out like a deep canyon, flanked by sheer cliffs of stained
glass. On sunny days, the abbey floor was a prismatic patchwork of
light. Today, the rain and darkness gave this massive hollow a
wraithlike aura... more like that of the crypt it truly was. "It's
practically empty," Sophie whispered. Langdon felt disappointed. He
had hoped for a lot more people. A more public place. Their earlier
experience in the deserted Temple Church was not one Langdon
wanted to repeat. He had been anticipating a certain feeling of
security in the popular tourist destination, but Langdon's
recollections of bustling throngs in a well-lit abbey had been formed
during the peak summer tourist season. Today was a rainy April
morning. Rather than crowds and shimmering stained glass, all
Langdon saw was acres of desolate floor and shadowy, empty
alcoves. "We passed through metal detectors," Sophie reminded,
apparently sensing Langdon's apprehension. "If anyone is in here,
they can't be armed." Langdon nodded but still felt circumspect. He
had wanted to bring the London police with them, but Sophie's
fears of who might be involved put a damper on any contact with the
authorities. We need to recover the cryptex, Sophie had insisted.
It is the key to everything. She was right, of course. The key to
getting Leigh back alive. The key to finding the Holy Grail. The key
to learning who is behind this. Unfortunately, their only chance to
recover the keystone seemed to be here and now... at the tomb of
Isaac Newton. Whoever held the cryptex would have to pay a visit
to the tomb to decipher the final clue, and if they had not already
come and gone, Sophie and Langdon intended to intercept them.
Striding toward the left wall to get out of the open, they moved
into an obscure side aisle behind a row of pilasters. Langdon
couldn't shake the image of Leigh Teabing being held captive,
probably tied up in the back of his own limousine. Whoever had
ordered the top Priory members killed would not hesitate to
eliminate others who stood in the way. It seemed a cruel irony that
Teabinga modern British knightwas a hostage in the search for his
own countryman, Sir Isaac Newton. "Which way is it?" Sophie asked,
looking around. The tomb. Langdon had no idea. "We should find a
docent and ask." Langdon knew better than to wander aimlessly in
here. Westminster Abbey was a tangled warren of mausoleums,
perimeter chambers, and walk-in burial niches. Like the Louvre's
Grand Gallery, it had a lone point of entrythe door through which
they had just passedeasy to find your way in, but impossible to find
your way out. A literal tourist trap, one of Langdon's befuddled
colleagues had called it. Keeping architectural tradition, the abbey
was laid out in the shape of a giant crucifix. Unlike most churches,
however, it had its entrance on the side, rather than the standard
rear of the church via the narthex at the bottom of the nave.
Moreover, the abbey had a series of sprawling cloisters attached.
One false step through the wrong archway, and a visitor was lost in
a labyrinth of outdoor passageways surrounded by high walls.
"Docents wear crimson robes," Langdon said, approaching the center
of the church. Peering obliquely across the towering gilded altar to
the far end of the south transept, Langdon saw several people
crawling on their hands and knees. This prostrate pilgrimage was a
common occurrence in Poets' Corner, although it was far less holy
than it appeared. Tourists doing grave rubbings. "I don't see any
docents," Sophie said. "Maybe we can find the tomb on our own?"
Without a word, Langdon led her another few steps to the center of
the abbey and pointed to the right. Sophie drew a startled breath
as she looked down the length of the abbey's nave, the full
magnitude of the building now visible. "Aah," she said. "Let's find a
At that moment, a hundred yards down the nave, out of sight behind
the choir screen, the stately tomb of Sir Isaac Newton had a lone
visitor. The Teacher had been scrutinizing the monument for ten
minutes now. Newton's tomb consisted of a massive black-marble
sarcophagus on which reclined the sculpted form of Sir Isaac
Newton, wearing classical costume, and leaning proudly against a
stack of his own booksDivinity, Chronology, Opticks, and
Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica. At Newton's feet
stood two winged boys holding a scroll. Behind Newton's recumbent
body rose an austere pyramid. Although the pyramid itself seemed
an oddity, it was the giant shape mounted halfway up the pyramid
that most intrigued the Teacher. An orb. The Teacher pondered
Saunière's beguiling riddle. You seek the orb that ought be on his
tomb. The massive orb protruding from the face of the pyramid was
carved in basso-relievo and depicted all kinds of heavenly
bodiesconstellations, signs of the zodiac, comets, stars, and planets.
Above it, the image of the Goddess of Astronomy beneath a field of
stars. Countless orbs. The Teacher had been convinced that once he
found the tomb, discerning the missing orb would be easy. Now he
was not so sure. He was gazing at a complicated map of the heavens.
Was there a missing planet? Had some astronomical orb been
omitted from a constellation? He had no idea. Even so, the Teacher
could not help but suspect that the solution would be ingeniously
clean and simple"a knight a pope interred." What orb am I looking
for? Certainly, an advanced knowledge of astrophysics was not a
prerequisite for finding the Holy Grail, was it? It speaks of Rosy
flesh and seeded womb. The Teacher's concentration was broken by
several approaching tourists. He slipped the cryptex back in his
pocket and watched warily as the visitors went to a nearby table,
left a donation in the cup, and restocked on the complimentary
grave-rubbing supplies set out by the abbey. Armed with fresh
charcoal pencils and large sheets of heavy paper, they headed off
toward the front of the abbey, probably to the popular Poets'
Corner to pay their respects to Chaucer, Tennyson, and Dickens by
rubbing furiously on their graves. Alone again, he stepped closer to
the tomb, scanning it from bottom to top. He began with the clawed
feet beneath the sarcophagus, moved upward past Newton, past his
books on science, past the two boys with their mathematical scroll,
up the face of the pyramid to the giant orb with its constellations,
and finally up to the niche's star-filled canopy. What orb ought to
be here... and yet is missing? He touched the cryptex in his pocket
as if he could somehow divine the answer from Saunière's crafted
marble. Only five letters separate me from the Grail. Pacing now
near the corner of the choir screen, he took a deep breath and
glanced up the long nave toward the main altar in the distance. His
gaze dropped from the gilded altar down to the bright crimson robe
of an abbey docent who was being waved over by two very familiar
individuals. Langdon and Neveu. Calmly, the Teacher moved two
steps back behind the choir screen. That was fast. He had
anticipated Langdon and Sophie would eventually decipher the
poem's meaning and come to Newton's tomb, but this was sooner
than he had imagined. Taking a deep breath, the Teacher considered
his options. He had grown accustomed to dealing with surprises. I
am holding the cryptex. Reaching down to his pocket, he touched
the second object that gave him his confidence: the Medusa
revolver. As expected, the abbey's metal detectors had blared as
the Teacher passed through with the concealed gun. Also as
expected, the guards had backed off at once when the Teacher
glared indignantly and flashed his identification card. Official rank
always commanded the proper respect. Although initially the
Teacher had hoped to solve the cryptex alone and avoid any further
complications, he now sensed that the arrival of Langdon and Neveu
was actually a welcome development. Considering the lack of success
he was having with the "orb" reference, he might be able to use
their expertise. After all, if Langdon had deciphered the poem to
find the tomb, there was a reasonable chance he also knew
something about the orb. And if Langdon knew the password, then it
was just a matter of applying the right pressure. Not here, of
course. Somewhere private. The Teacher recalled a small
announcement sign he had seen on his way into the abbey.
Immediately he knew the perfect place to lure them. The only
question now... what to use as bait.
Langdon and Sophie moved slowly down the north aisle, keeping to
the shadows behind the ample pillars that separated it from the
open nave. Despite having traveled more than halfway down the
nave, they still had no clear view of Newton's tomb. The
sarcophagus was recessed in a niche, obscured from this oblique
angle. "At least there's nobody over there," Sophie whispered.
Langdon nodded, relieved. The entire section of the nave near
Newton's tomb was deserted. "I'll go over," he whispered. "You
should stay hidden just in case someone" Sophie had already
stepped from the shadows and was headed across the open floor. "is
watching," Langdon sighed, hurrying to join her. Crossing the
massive nave on a diagonal, Langdon and Sophie remained silent as
the elaborate sepulchre revealed itself in tantalizing increments... a
black-marble sarcophagus... a reclining statue of Newton... two
winged boys... a huge pyramid... and... an enormous orb. "Did you know
about that?" Sophie said, sounding startled. Langdon shook his head,
also surprised. "Those look like constellations carved on it," Sophie
said. As they approached the niche, Langdon felt a slow sinking
sensation. Newton's tomb was covered with orbsstars, comets,
planets. You seek the orb that ought be on his tomb? It could turn
out to be like trying to find a missing blade of grass on a golf
course. "Astronomical bodies," Sophie said, looking concerned. "And
a lot of them." Langdon frowned. The only link between the planets
and the Grail that Langdon could imagine was the pentacle of Venus,
and he had already tried the password "Venus" en route to the
Temple Church. Sophie moved directly to the sarcophagus, but
Langdon hung back a few feet, keeping an eye on the abbey around
them. "Divinity," Sophie said, tilting her head and reading the titles
of the books on which Newton was leaning. "Chronology. Opticks.
Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica?" She turned to him.
"Ring any bells?" Langdon stepped closer, considering it. "Principia
Mathematica, as I remember, has something to do with the
gravitation pull of planets... which admittedly are orbs, but it seems
a little far-fetched." "How about the signs of the zodiac?" Sophie
asked, pointing to the constellations on the orb. "You were talking
about Pisces and Aquarius earlier, weren't you?" The End of Days,
Langdon thought. "The end of Pisces and the beginning of Aquarius
was allegedly the historical marker at which the Priory planned to
release the Sangreal documents to the world." But the millennium
came and went without incident, leaving historians uncertain when
the truth was coming. "It seems possible," Sophie said, "that the
Priory's plans to reveal the truth might be related to the last line
of the poem." It speaks of Rosy flesh and seeded womb. Langdon
felt a shiver of potential. He had not considered the line that way
before. "You told me earlier," she said, "that the timing of the
Priory's plans to unveil the truth about 'the Rose' and her fertile
womb was linked directly to the position of planetsorbs."
Langdon nodded, feeling the first faint wisps of possibility
materializing. Even so, his
intuition told him astronomy was not the key. The Grand Master's
previous solutions had
all possessed an eloquent, symbolic significancethe Mona Lisa,
Madonna of the Rocks,
SOFIA. This eloquence was definitely lacking in the concept of
planetary orbs and the
zodiac. Thus far, Jacques Saunière had proven himself a meticulous
code writer, and
Langdon had to believe that his final passwordthose five letters
that unlocked the Priory's
ultimate secretwould prove to be not only symbolically fitting but
also crystal clear. If
this solution were anything like the others, it would be painfully
obvious once it dawned.
"Look!" Sophie gasped, jarring his thoughts as she grabbed his arm.
From the fear in her
touch Langdon sensed someone must be approaching, but when he
turned to her, she was
staring aghast at the top of the black marble sarcophagus.
"Someone was here," she
whispered, pointing to a spot on the sarcophagus near Newton's
outstretched right foot.
Langdon did not understand her concern. A careless tourist had left
a charcoal, grave-
rubbing pencil on the sarcophagus lid near Newton's foot. It's
nothing. Langdon reached
out to pick it up, but as he leaned toward the sarcophagus, the light
shifted on the
polished black-marble slab, and Langdon froze. Suddenly, he saw
why Sophie was afraid.
Scrawled on the sarcophagus lid, at Newton's feet, shimmered a
barely visible charcoal-
I have Teabing.
Go through Chapter House,
out south exit, to public garden.
Langdon read the words twice, his heart pounding wildly.
Sophie turned and scanned the nave.
Despite the pall of trepidation that settled over him upon seeing
the words, Langdon told
himself this was good news. Leigh is still alive. There was another
implication here too.
"They don't know the password either," he whispered.
Sophie nodded. Otherwise why make their presence known?
"They may want to trade Leigh for the password."
"Or it's a trap."
Langdon shook his head. "I don't think so. The garden is outside the
abbey walls. A very
public place." Langdon had once visited the abbey's famous College
Gardena small fruit
orchard and herb gardenleft over from the days when monks grew
pharmacological remedies here. Boasting the oldest living fruit
trees in Great Britain,
College Garden was a popular spot for tourists to visit without
having to enter the abbey.
"I think sending us outside is a show of faith. So we feel safe."
Sophie looked dubious. "You mean outside, where there are no metal
Langdon scowled. She had a point.
Gazing back at the orb-filled tomb, Langdon wished he had some
idea about the cryptex
password... something with which to negotiate. I got Leigh involved
in this, and I'll do
whatever it takes if there is a chance to help him.
"The note says to go through the Chapter House to the south exit,"
Sophie said. "Maybe
from the exit we would have a view of the garden? That way we
could assess the
situation before we walked out there and exposed ourselves to any
The idea was a good one. Langdon vaguely recalled the Chapter
House as a huge
octagonal hall where the original British Parliament convened in the
days before the
modern Parliament building existed. It had been years since he had
been there, but he remembered it being out through the cloister
somewhere. Taking several steps back from the tomb, Langdon
peered around the choir screen to his right, across the nave to the
side opposite that which they had descended. A gaping vaulted
passageway stood nearby, with a large sign. THIS WAY TO:
CLOISTERS DEANERY COLLEGE HALL MUSEUM PYX CHAMBER
ST. FAITH'S CHAPEL CHAPTER HOUSE
Langdon and Sophie were jogging as they passed beneath the sign,
moving too quickly to notice the small announcement apologizing that
certain areas were closed for renovations. They emerged
immediately into a high-walled, open-roof courtyard through which
morning rain was falling. Above them, the wind howled across the
opening with a low drone, like someone blowing over the mouth of a
bottle. Entering the narrow, low-hanging walkways that bordered
the courtyard perimeter, Langdon felt the familiar uneasiness he
always felt in enclosed spaces. These walkways were called cloisters,
and Langdon noted with uneasiness that these particular cloisters
lived up to their Latin ties to the word claustrophobic. Focusing his
mind straight ahead toward the end of the tunnel, Langdon followed
the signs for the Chapter House. The rain was spitting now, and the
walkway was cold and damp with gusts of rain that blew through the
lone pillared wall that was the cloister's only source of light.
Another couple scurried past them the other way, hurrying to get
out of the worsening weather. The cloisters looked deserted now,
admittedly the abbey's least enticing section in the wind and rain.
Forty yards down the east cloister, an archway materialized on
their left, giving way to another hallway. Although this was the
entrance they were looking for, the opening was cordoned off by a
swag and an official-looking sign. CLOSED FOR RENOVATION PYX
CHAMBER ST. FAITH'S CHAPEL CHAPTER HOUSE
The long, deserted corridor beyond the swag was littered with
scaffolding and drop cloths. Immediately beyond the swag, Langdon
could see the entrances to the Pyx Chamber and St. Faith's Chapel
on the right and left. The entrance to the Chapter House, however,
was much farther away, at the far end of the long hallway. Even
from here, Langdon could see that its heavy wooden door was wide
open, and the spacious octagonal interior was bathed in a grayish
natural light from the room's enormous windows that looked out on
College Garden. Go through Chapter House, out south exit, to public
garden. "We just left the east cloister," Langdon said, "so the south
exit to the garden must be through there and to the right."
Sophie was already stepping over the swag and moving forward.
As they hurried down the dark corridor, the sounds of the wind and
rain from the open
cloister faded behind them. The Chapter House was a kind of
freestanding annex at the end of the long hallway to ensure the
privacy of the Parliament
proceedings housed there.
"It looks huge," Sophie whispered as they approached.
Langdon had forgotten just how large this room was. Even from
outside the entrance, he
could gaze across the vast expanse of floor to the breathtaking
windows on the far side of
the octagon, which rose five stories to a vaulted ceiling. They would
certainly have a
clear view of the garden from in here.
Crossing the threshold, both Langdon and Sophie found themselves
having to squint.
After the gloomy cloisters, the Chapter House felt like a solarium.
They were a good ten
feet into the room, searching the south wall, when they realized the
door they had been
promised was not there.
They were standing in an enormous dead end.
The creaking of a heavy door behind them made them turn, just as
the door closed with a
resounding thud and the latch fell into place.
The lone man who had been standing behind the door looked calm as
he aimed a small
revolver at them. He was portly and was propped on a pair of
For a moment Langdon thought he must be dreaming.
It was Leigh Teabing.
Sir Leigh Teabing felt rueful as he gazed out over the barrel of his
Medusa revolver at
Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu. "My friends," he said, "since the
moment you walked
into my home last night, I have done everything in my power to keep
you out of harm's
way. But your persistence has now put me in a difficult position."
He could see the expressions of shock and betrayal on Sophie's and
Langdon's faces, and
yet he was confident that soon they would both understand the
chain of events that had
guided the three of them to this unlikely crossroads.
There is so much I have to tell you both... so much you do not yet
"Please believe," Teabing said, "I never had any intention of your
being involved. You
came to my home. You came searching for me."
"Leigh?" Langdon finally managed. "What the hell are you doing? We
thought you were
in trouble. We came here to help you!"
"As I trusted you would," he said. "We have much to discuss."
Langdon and Sophie seemed unable to tear their stunned gazes from
the revolver aimed
"It is simply to ensure your full attention," Teabing said. "If I had
wanted to harm you,
you would be dead by now. When you walked into my home last night,
everything to spare your lives. I am a man of honor, and I vowed in
conscience only to sacrifice those who had betrayed the Sangreal."
"What are you talking about?" Langdon said. "Betrayed the
"I discovered a terrible truth," Teabing said, sighing. "I learned why
documents were never revealed to the world. I learned that the
Priory had decided not to
release the truth after all. That's why the millennium passed
without any revelation, why nothing happened as we entered the End
of Days." Langdon drew a breath, about to protest. "The Priory,"
Teabing continued, "was given a sacred charge to share the truth.
To release the Sangreal documents when the End of Days arrived.
For centuries, men like Da Vinci, Botticelli, and Newton risked
everything to protect the documents and carry out that charge. And
now, at the ultimate moment of truth, Jacques Saunière changed his
mind. The man honored with the greatest responsibility in Christian
history eschewed his duty. He decided the time was not right."
Teabing turned to Sophie. "He failed the Grail. He failed the Priory.
And he failed the memory of all the generations that had worked to
make that moment possible." "You?" Sophie declared, glancing up
now, her green eyes boring into him with rage and realization. "You
are the one responsible for my grandfather's murder?" Teabing
scoffed. "Your grandfather and his sénéchaux were traitors to the
Grail." Sophie felt a fury rising from deep within. He's lying!
Teabing's voice was relentless. "Your grandfather sold out to the
Church. It is obvious they pressured him to keep the truth quiet."
Sophie shook her head. "The Church had no influence on my
grandfather!" Teabing laughed coldly. "My dear, the Church has two
thousand years of experience pressuring those who threaten to
unveil its lies. Since the days of Constantine, the Church has
successfully hidden the truth about Mary Magdalene and Jesus. We
should not be surprised that now, once again, they have found a way
to keep the world in the dark. The Church may no longer employ
crusaders to slaughter non-believers, but their influence is no less
persuasive. No less insidious." He paused, as if to punctuate his next
point. "Miss Neveu, for some time now your grandfather has wanted
to tell you the truth about your family." Sophie was stunned. "How
could you know that?" "My methods are immaterial. The important
thing for you to grasp right now is this." He took a deep breath.
"The deaths of your mother, father, grandmother, and brother
were not accidental." The words sent Sophie's emotions reeling. She
opened her mouth to speak but was unable. Langdon shook his head.
"What are you saying?" "Robert, it explains everything. All the
pieces fit. History repeats itself. The Church has a precedent of
murder when it comes to silencing the Sangreal. With the End of
Days imminent, killing the Grand Master's loved ones sent a very
clear message. Be quiet, or you and Sophie are next." "It was a car
accident," Sophie stammered, feeling the childhood pain welling
inside her. "An accident!" "Bedtime stories to protect your
innocence," Teabing said. "Consider that only two family members
went untouchedthe Priory's Grand Master and his lone
granddaughterthe perfect pair to provide the Church with control
over the brotherhood. I can only imagine the terror the Church
wielded over your grandfather these past years, threatening to kill
you if he dared release the Sangreal secret, threatening to finish
the job they started unless Saunière influenced the Priory to
reconsider its ancient vow."
"Leigh," Langdon argued, now visibly riled, "certainly you have no
proof that the Church had anything to do with those deaths, or that
it influenced the Priory's decision to remain silent." "Proof?"
Teabing fired back. "You want proof the Priory was influenced? The
new millennium has arrived, and yet the world remains ignorant! Is
that not proof enough?" In the echoes of Teabing's words, Sophie
heard another voice speaking. Sophie, I must tell you the truth
about your family. She realized she was trembling. Could this
possibly be that truth her grandfather had wanted to tell her? That
her family had been murdered? What did she truly know about the
crash that took her family? Only sketchy details. Even the stories in
the newspaper had been vague. An accident? Bedtime stories?
Sophie flashed suddenly on her grandfather's overprotectiveness,
how he never liked to leave her alone when she was young. Even when
Sophie was grown and away at university, she had the sense her
grandfather was watching over. She wondered if there had been
Priory members in the shadows throughout her entire life, looking
after her. "You suspected he was being manipulated," Langdon said,
glaring with disbelief at Teabing. "So you murdered him?" "I did not
pull the trigger," Teabing said. "Saunière was dead years ago, when
the Church stole his family from him. He was compromised. Now he
is free of that pain, released from the shame caused by his inability
to carry out his sacred duty. Consider the alternative. Something
had to be done. Shall the world be ignorant forever? Shall the
Church be allowed to cement its lies into our history books for all
eternity? Shall the Church be permitted to influence indefinitely
with murder and extortion? No, something needed to be done! And
now we are poised to carry out Saunière's legacy and right a
terrible wrong." He paused. "The three of us. Together." Sophie felt
only incredulity. "How could you possibly believe that we would help
you?" "Because, my dear, you are the reason the Priory failed to
release the documents. Your grandfather's love for you prevented
him from challenging the Church. His fear of reprisal against his
only remaining family crippled him. He never had a chance to explain
the truth because you rejected him, tying his hands, making him
wait. Now you owe the world the truth. You owe it to the memory of
Robert Langdon had given up trying to get his bearings. Despite the
torrent of questions running through his mind, he knew only one
thing mattered nowgetting Sophie out of here alive. All the guilt
Langdon had mistakenly felt earlier for involving Teabing had now
been transferred to Sophie. I took her to Château Villette. I am
responsible. Langdon could not fathom that Leigh Teabing would be
capable of killing them in cold blood here in the Chapter House, and
yet Teabing certainly had been involved in killing others during his
misguided quest. Langdon had the uneasy feeling that gunshots in
this secluded, thick-walled chamber would go unheard, especially in
this rain. And Leigh just admitted his guilt to us. Langdon glanced at
Sophie, who looked shaken. The Church murdered Sophie's family to
silence the Priory? Langdon felt certain the modern Church did not
murder people. There had to be some other explanation. "Let Sophie
leave," Langdon declared, staring at Leigh. "You and I should discuss
Teabing gave an unnatural laugh. "I'm afraid that is one show of
faith I cannot afford. I can, however, offer you this." He propped
himself fully on his crutches, gracelessly keeping the gun aimed at
Sophie, and removed the keystone from his pocket. He swayed a bit
as he held it out for Langdon. "A token of trust, Robert." Robert
felt wary and didn't move. Leigh is giving the keystone back to us?
"Take it," Teabing said, thrusting it awkwardly toward Langdon.
Langdon could imagine only one reason Teabing would give it back.
"You opened it already. You removed the map." Teabing was shaking
his head. "Robert, if I had solved the keystone, I would have
disappeared to find the Grail myself and kept you uninvolved. No, I
do not know the answer. And I can admit that freely. A true knight
learns humility in the face of the Grail. He learns to obey the signs
placed before him. When I saw you enter the abbey, I understood.
You were here for a reason. To help. I am not looking for singular
glory here. I serve a far greater master than my own pride. The
Truth. Mankind deserves to know that truth. The Grail found us all,
and now she is begging to be revealed. We must work together."
Despite Teabing's pleas for cooperation and trust, his gun remained
trained on Sophie as Langdon stepped forward and accepted the
cold marble cylinder. The vinegar inside gurgled as Langdon grasped
it and stepped backward. The dials were still in random order, and
the cryptex remained locked. Langdon eyed Teabing. "How do you
know I won't smash it right now?" Teabing's laugh was an eerie
chortle. "I should have realized your threat to break it in the
Temple Church was an empty one. Robert Langdon would never break
the keystone. You are an historian, Robert. You are holding the key
to two thousand years of historythe lost key to the Sangreal. You
can feel the souls of all the knights burned at the stake to protect
her secret. Would you have them die in vain? No, you will vindicate
them. You will join the ranks of the great men you admireDa Vinci,
Botticelli, Newtoneach of whom would have been honored to be in
your shoes right now. The contents of the keystone are crying out
to us. Longing to be set free. The time has come. Destiny has led us
to this moment." "I cannot help you, Leigh. I have no idea how to
open this. I only saw Newton's tomb for a moment. And even if I
knew the password..." Langdon paused, realizing he had said too
much. "You would not tell me?" Teabing sighed. "I am disappointed
and surprised, Robert, that you do not appreciate the extent to
which you are in my debt. My task would have been far simpler had
Rémy and I eliminated you both when you walked into Château
Villette. Instead I risked everything to take the nobler course."
"This is noble?" Langdon demanded, eyeing the gun. "Saunière's
fault," Teabing said. "He and his sénéchaux lied to Silas. Otherwise,
I would have obtained the keystone without complication. How was I
to imagine the Grand Master would go to such ends to deceive me
and bequeath the keystone to an estranged granddaughter?"
Teabing looked at Sophie with disdain. "Someone so unqualified to
hold this knowledge that she required a symbologist baby-sitter."
Teabing glanced back at Langdon. "Fortunately, Robert, your
involvement turned out to be my saving grace. Rather than the
keystone remaining locked in the depository bank forever, you
extracted it and walked into my home."
Where else would I run? Langdon thought. The community of Grail
historians is small,
and Teabing and I have a history together.
Teabing now looked smug. "When I learned Saunière left you a dying
message, I had a
pretty good idea you were holding valuable Priory information.
Whether it was the
keystone itself, or information on where to find it, I was not sure.
But with the police on
your heels, I had a sneaking suspicion you might arrive on my
Langdon glared. "And if we had not?"
"I was formulating a plan to extend you a helping hand. One way or
another, the keystone
was coming to Château Villette. The fact that you delivered it into
my waiting hands only
serves as proof that my cause is just."
"What!" Langdon was appalled.
"Silas was supposed to break in and steal the keystone from you in
removing you from the equation without hurting you, and
exonerating me from any
suspicion of complicity. However, when I saw the intricacy of
Saunière's codes, I decided
to include you both in my quest a bit longer. I could have Silas steal
the keystone later,
once I knew enough to carry on alone."
"The Temple Church," Sophie said, her tone awash with betrayal.
Light begins to dawn, Teabing thought. The Temple Church was the
perfect location to
steal the keystone from Robert and Sophie, and its apparent
relevance to the poem made
it a plausible decoy. Rémy's orders had been clearstay out of sight
while Silas recovers
the keystone. Unfortunately, Langdon's threat to smash the
keystone on the chapel floor
had caused Rémy to panic. If only Rémy had not revealed himself,
ruefully, recalling his own mock kidnapping. Rémy was the sole link to
me, and he
showed his face!
Fortunately, Silas remained unaware of Teabing's true identity and
was easily fooled into
taking him from the church and then watching naively as Rémy
pretended to tie their
hostage in the back of the limousine. With the soundproof divider
raised, Teabing was
able to phone Silas in the front seat, use the fake French accent of
the Teacher, and direct
Silas to go straight to Opus Dei. A simple anonymous tip to the
police was all it would
take to remove Silas from the picture.
One loose end tied up.
The other loose end was harder. Rémy.
Teabing struggled deeply with the decision, but in the end Rémy had
proven himself a
liability. Every Grail quest requires sacrifice. The cleanest solution
had been staring
Teabing in the face from the limousine's wet bara flask, some
cognac, and a can of
peanuts. The powder at the bottom of the can would be more than
enough to trigger
Rémy's deadly allergy. When Rémy parked the limo on Horse Guards
climbed out of the back, walked to the side passenger door, and sat
in the front next to
Rémy. Minutes later, Teabing got out of the car, climbed into the
rear again, cleaned up
the evidence, and finally emerged to carry out the final phase of his
Westminster Abbey had been a short walk, and although Teabing's
leg braces, crutches,
and gun had set off the metal detector, the rent-a-cops never knew
what to do. Do we ask
him to remove his braces and crawl through? Do we frisk his
deformed body? Teabing
presented the flustered guards a far easier solutionan embossed
card identifying him as
Knight of the Realm. The poor fellows practically tripped over one
another ushering him in. Now, eyeing the bewildered Langdon and
Neveu, Teabing resisted the urge to reveal how he had brilliantly
implicated Opus Dei in the plot that would soon bring about the
demise of the entire Church. That would have to wait. Right now
there was work to do. "Mes amis," Teabing declared in flawless
French, "vous ne trouvez pas le Saint-Graal, c'est le Saint-Graal qui
vous trouve." He smiled. "Our paths together could not be more
clear. The Grail has found us." Silence. He spoke to them in a
whisper now. "Listen. Can you hear it? The Grail is speaking to us
across the centuries. She is begging to be saved from the Priory's
folly. I implore you both to recognize this opportunity. There could
not possibly be three more capable people assembled at this moment
to break the final code and open the cryptex." Teabing paused, his
eyes alight. "We need to swear an oath together. A pledge of faith
to one another. A knight's allegiance to uncover the truth and make
it known." Sophie stared deep into Teabing's eyes and spoke in a
steely tone. "I will never swear an oath with my grandfather's
murderer. Except an oath that I will see you go to prison." Teabing's
heart turned grave, then resolute. "I am sorry you feel that way,
mademoiselle." He turned and aimed the gun at Langdon. "And you,
Robert? Are you with me, or against me?"
Bishop Manuel Aringarosa's body had endured many kinds of pain,
and yet the searing heat of the bullet wound in his chest felt
profoundly foreign to him. Deep and grave. Not a wound of the
flesh... but closer to the soul. He opened his eyes, trying to see, but
the rain on his face blurred his vision. Where am I? He could feel
powerful arms holding him, carrying his limp body like a rag doll, his
black cassock flapping. Lifting a weary arm, he mopped his eyes and
saw the man holding him was Silas. The great albino was struggling
down a misty sidewalk, shouting for a hospital, his voice a
heartrending wail of agony. His red eyes were focused dead ahead,
tears streaming down his pale, blood-spattered face. "My son,"
Aringarosa whispered, "you're hurt." Silas glanced down, his visage
contorted in anguish. "I am so very sorry, Father." He seemed
almost too pained to speak. "No, Silas," Aringarosa replied. "It is I
who am sorry. This is my fault." The Teacher promised me there
would be no killing, and I told you to obey him fully. "I was too
eager. Too fearful. You and I were deceived." The Teacher was
never going to deliver us the Holy Grail. Cradled in the arms of the
man he had taken in all those years ago, Bishop Aringarosa felt
himself reel back in time. To Spain. To his modest beginnings,
building a small Catholic church in Oviedo with Silas. And later, to
New York City, where he had proclaimed the glory of God with the
towering Opus Dei Center on Lexington Avenue. Five months ago,
Aringarosa had received devastating news. His life's work was in
jeopardy. He recalled, with vivid detail, the meeting inside Castel
Gandolfo that had changed his life... the news that had set this
entire calamity into motion.
Aringarosa had entered Gandolfo's Astronomy Library with his head
held high, fully
expecting to be lauded by throngs of welcoming hands, all eager to
pat him on the back
for his superior work representing Catholicism in America.
But only three people were present.
The Vatican secretariat. Obese. Dour.
Two high-ranking Italian cardinals. Sanctimonious. Smug.
"Secretariat?" Aringarosa said, puzzled.
The rotund overseer of legal affairs shook Aringarosa's hand and
motioned to the chair
opposite him. "Please, make yourself comfortable."
Aringarosa sat, sensing something was wrong.
"I am not skilled in small talk, Bishop," the secretariat said, "so let
me be direct about the
reason for your visit."
"Please. Speak openly." Aringarosa glanced at the two cardinals, who
seemed to be
measuring him with self-righteous anticipation.
"As you are well aware," the secretariat said, "His Holiness and
others in Rome have
been concerned lately with the political fallout from Opus Dei's
Aringarosa felt himself bristle instantly. He already had been
through this on numerous
occasions with the new pontiff, who, to Aringarosa's great dismay,
had turned out to be a
distressingly fervent voice for liberal change in the Church.
"I want to assure you," the secretariat added quickly, "that His
Holiness does not seek to
change anything about the way you run your ministry."
I should hope not! "Then why am I here?"
The enormous man sighed. "Bishop, I am not sure how to say this
delicately, so I will
state it directly. Two days ago, the Secretariat Council voted
unanimously to revoke the
Vatican's sanction of Opus Dei."
Aringarosa was certain he had heard incorrectly. "I beg your
"Plainly stated, six months from today, Opus Dei will no longer be
considered a prelature
of the Vatican. You will be a church unto yourself. The Holy See will
itself from you. His Holiness agrees and we are already drawing up
the legal papers."
"But... that is impossible!"
"On the contrary, it is quite possible. And necessary. His Holiness
has become uneasy
with your aggressive recruiting policies and your practices of
corporal mortification." He
paused. "Also your policies regarding women. Quite frankly, Opus
Dei has become a
liability and an embarrassment."
Bishop Aringarosa was stupefied. "An embarrassment?"
"Certainly you cannot be surprised it has come to this."
"Opus Dei is the only Catholic organization whose numbers are
growing! We now have
over eleven hundred priests!"
"True. A troubling issue for us all."
Aringarosa shot to his feet. "Ask His Holiness if Opus Dei was an
embarrassment in 1982
when we helped the Vatican Bank!"
"The Vatican will always be grateful for that," the secretariat said,
his tone appeasing,
"and yet there are those who still believe your financial munificence
in 1982 is the only
reason you were granted prelature status in the first place."
"That is not true!" The insinuation offended Aringarosa deeply.
"Whatever the case, we plan to act in good faith. We are drawing up
severance terms that will include a reimbursement of those monies.
It will be paid in five installments." "You are buying me off?"
Aringarosa demanded. "Paying me to go quietly? When Opus Dei is
the only remaining voice of reason!" One of the cardinals glanced up.
"I'm sorry, did you say reason?" Aringarosa leaned across the table,
sharpening his tone to a point. "Do you really wonder why Catholics
are leaving the Church? Look around you, Cardinal. People have lost
respect. The rigors of faith are gone. The doctrine has become a
buffet line. Abstinence, confession, communion, baptism, masstake
your pickchoose whatever combination pleases you and ignore the
rest. What kind of spiritual guidance is the Church offering?"
"Third-century laws," the second cardinal said, "cannot be applied to
the modern followers of Christ. The rules are not workable in
today's society." "Well, they seem to be working for Opus Dei!"
"Bishop Aringarosa," the secretariat said, his voice conclusive. "Out
of respect for your organization's relationship with the previous
Pope, His Holiness will be giving Opus Dei six months to voluntarily
break away from the Vatican. I suggest you cite your differences of
opinion with the Holy See and establish yourself as your own
Christian organization." "I refuse!" Aringarosa declared. "And I'll
tell him that in person!" "I'm afraid His Holiness no longer cares to
meet with you." Aringarosa stood up. "He would not dare abolish a
personal prelature established by a previous Pope!" "I'm sorry." The
secretariat's eyes did not flinch. "The Lord giveth and the Lord
taketh away." Aringarosa had staggered from that meeting in
bewilderment and panic. Returning to New York, he stared out at
the skyline in disillusionment for days, overwhelmed with sadness
for the future of Christianity. It was several weeks later that he
received the phone call that changed all that. The caller sounded
French and identified himself as the Teachera title common in the
prelature. He said he knew of the Vatican's plans to pull support
from Opus Dei. How could he know that? Aringarosa wondered. He
had hoped only a handful of Vatican power brokers knew of Opus
Dei's impending annulment. Apparently the word was out. When it
came to containing gossip, no walls in the world were as porous as
those surrounding Vatican City. "I have ears everywhere, Bishop,"
the Teacher whispered, "and with these ears I have gained certain
knowledge. With your help, I can uncover the hiding place of a
sacred relic that will bring you enormous power... enough power to
make the Vatican bow before you. Enough power to save the Faith."
He paused. "Not just for Opus Dei. But for all of us." The Lord
taketh away... and the Lord giveth. Aringarosa felt a glorious ray of
hope. "Tell me your plan."
Bishop Aringarosa was unconscious when the doors of St. Mary's
Hospital hissed open. Silas lurched into the entryway delirious with
exhaustion. Dropping to his knees on the tile floor, he cried out for
help. Everyone in the reception area gaped in wonderment at the
half-naked albino offering forth a bleeding clergyman.
The doctor who helped Silas heave the delirious bishop onto a
gurney looked gloomy as
he felt Aringarosa's pulse. "He's lost a lot of blood. I am not
Aringarosa's eyes flickered, and he returned for a moment, his gaze
locating Silas. "My
Silas's soul thundered with remorse and rage. "Father, if it takes
my lifetime, I will find
the one who deceived us, and I will kill him."
Aringarosa shook his head, looking sad as they prepared to wheel
him away. "Silas... if
you have learned nothing from me, please... learn this." He took
Silas's hand and gave it a
firm squeeze. "Forgiveness is God's greatest gift."
Aringarosa closed his eyes. "Silas, you must pray."
Robert Langdon stood beneath the lofty cupola of the deserted
Chapter House and stared
into the barrel of Leigh Teabing's gun.
Robert, are you with me, or against me? The Royal Historian's words
echoed in the
silence of Langdon's mind.
There was no viable response, Langdon knew. Answer yes, and he
would be selling out
Sophie. Answer no, and Teabing would have no choice but to kill
Langdon's years in the classroom had not imbued him with any skills
relevant to handling
confrontations at gunpoint, but the classroom had taught him
something about answering
paradoxical questions. When a question has no correct answer, there
is only one honest
The gray area between yes and no.
Staring at the cryptex in his hands, Langdon chose simply to walk
Without ever lifting his eyes, he stepped backward, out into the
room's vast empty spaces.
Neutral ground. He hoped his focus on the cryptex signaled Teabing
might be an option, and that his silence signaled Sophie he had not
All the while buying time to think.
The act of thinking, Langdon suspected, was exactly what Teabing
wanted him to do.
That's why he handed me the cryptex. So I could feel the weight of
my decision. The
British historian hoped the touch of the Grand Master's cryptex
would make Langdon
fully grasp the magnitude of its contents, coaxing his academic
curiosity to overwhelm all
else, forcing him to realize that failure to unlock the keystone would
mean the loss of
With Sophie at gunpoint across the room, Langdon feared that
discovering the cryptex's
elusive password would be his only remaining hope of bartering her
release. If I can free
the map, Teabing will negotiate. Forcing his mind to this critical
task, Langdon moved
slowly toward the far windows... allowing his mind to fill with the
astronomical images on Newton's tomb.
You seek the orb that ought be on his tomb.
It speaks of Rosy flesh and seeded womb.
Turning his back to the others, he walked toward the towering
windows, searching for
any inspiration in their stained-glass mosaics. There was none.
Place yourself in Saunière's mind, he urged, gazing outward now into
What would he believe is the orb that ought be on Newton's tomb?
Images of stars,
comets, and planets twinkled in the falling rain, but Langdon ignored
them. Saunière was
not a man of science. He was a man of humanity, of art, of history.
The sacred feminine...
the chalice... the Rose... the banished Mary Magdalene... the decline
of the goddess... the
Legend had always portrayed the Grail as a cruel mistress, dancing
in the shadows just
out of sight, whispering in your ear, luring you one more step and
then evaporating into the mist.
Gazing out at the rustling trees of College Garden, Langdon sensed
her playful presence.
The signs were everywhere. Like a taunting silhouette emerging
from the fog, the
branches of Britain's oldest apple tree burgeoned with five-petaled
glistening like Venus. The goddess was in the garden now. She was
dancing in the rain,
singing songs of the ages, peeking out from behind the bud-filled
branches as if to remind
Langdon that the fruit of knowledge was growing just beyond his
Across the room, Sir Leigh Teabing watched with confidence as
Langdon gazed out the
window as if under a spell.
Exactly as I hoped, Teabing thought. He will come around.
For some time now, Teabing had suspected Langdon might hold the
key to the Grail. It
was no coincidence that Teabing launched his plan into action on the
same night Langdon
was scheduled to meet Jacques Saunière. Listening in on the
curator, Teabing was certain
the man's eagerness to meet privately with Langdon could mean only
Langdon's mysterious manuscript has touched a nerve with the
Langdon has stumbled onto a truth, and Saunière fears its release.
Teabing felt certain the
Grand Master was summoning Langdon to silence him.
The Truth has been silenced long enough!
Teabing knew he had to act quickly. Silas's attack would accomplish
two goals. It would
prevent Saunière from persuading Langdon to keep quiet, and it
would ensure that once
the keystone was in Teabing's hands, Langdon would be in Paris for
Teabing need him.
Arranging the fatal meeting between Saunière and Silas had been
almost too easy. I had
inside information about Saunière's deepest fears. Yesterday
afternoon, Silas had phoned
the curator and posed as a distraught priest. "Monsieur Saunière,
forgive me, I must speak
to you at once. I should never breach the sanctity of the
confessional, but in this case, I
feel I must. I just took confession from a man who claimed to have
murdered members of
Saunière's response was startled but wary. "My family died in an
accident. The police
report was conclusive."
"Yes, a car accident," Silas said, baiting the hook. "The man I spoke
to said he forced
their car off the road into a river."
Saunière fell silent.
"Monsieur Saunière, I would never have phoned you directly except
this man made a
comment which makes me now fear for your safety." He paused.
"The man also
mentioned your granddaughter, Sophie."
The mention of Sophie's name had been the catalyst. The curator
leapt into action. He
ordered Silas to come see him immediately in the safest location
Louvre office. Then he phoned Sophie to warn her she might be in
danger. Drinks with
Robert Langdon were instantly abandoned.
Now, with Langdon separated from Sophie on the far side of the
room, Teabing sensed
he had successfully alienated the two companions from one another.
remained defiant, but Langdon clearly saw the larger picture. He
was trying to figure out
the password. He understands the importance of finding the Grail
and releasing her from
"He won't open it for you," Sophie said coldly. "Even if he can."
Teabing was glancing at Langdon as he held the gun on Sophie. He
was fairly certain
now he was going to have to use the weapon. Although the idea
troubled him, he knew he
would not hesitate if it came to that. I have given her every
opportunity to do the right
thing. The Grail is bigger than any one of us.
At that moment, Langdon turned from the window. "The tomb..." he
facing them with a faint glimmer of hope in his eyes. "I know where
to look on Newton's
tomb. Yes, I think I can find the password!"
Teabing's heart soared. "Where, Robert? Tell me!"
Sophie sounded horrified. "Robert, no! You're not going to help him,
Langdon approached with a resolute stride, holding the cryptex
before him. "No," he said,
his eyes hardening as he turned to Leigh. "Not until he lets you go."
Teabing's optimism darkened. "We are so close, Robert. Don't you
dare start playing
games with me!"
"No games," Langdon said. "Let her go. Then I'll take you to
Newton's tomb. We'll open
the cryptex together."
"I'm not going anywhere," Sophie declared, her eyes narrowing with
rage. "That cryptex
was given to me by my grandfather. It is not yours to open."
Langdon wheeled, looking fearful. "Sophie, please! You're in danger.
I'm trying to help
"How? By unveiling the secret my grandfather died trying to
protect? He trusted you,
Robert. I trusted you!"
Langdon's blue eyes showed panic now, and Teabing could not help
but smile to see the
two of them working against one another. Langdon's attempts to be
gallant were more
pathetic than anything. On the verge of unveiling one of history's
greatest secrets, and he
troubles himself with a woman who has proven herself unworthy of
"Sophie," Langdon pleaded. "Please... you must leave."
She shook her head. "Not unless you either hand me the cryptex or
smash it on the floor."
"What?" Langdon gasped.
"Robert, my grandfather would prefer his secret lost forever than
see it in the hands of his
murderer." Sophie's eyes looked as if they would well with tears,
but they did not. She
stared directly back at Teabing. "Shoot me if you have to. I am not
grandfather's legacy in your hands."
Very well. Teabing aimed the weapon.
"No!" Langdon shouted, raising his arm and suspending the cryptex
precariously over the
hard stone floor. "Leigh, if you even think about it, I will drop this."
Teabing laughed. "That bluff worked on Rémy. Not on me. I know
you better than that."
"Do you, Leigh?"
Yes I do. Your poker face needs work, my friend. It took me several
seconds, but I can
see now that you are lying. You have no idea where on Newton's
tomb the answer lies.
"Truly, Robert? You know where on the tomb to look?"
The falter in Langdon's eyes was fleeting but Leigh caught it. There
was a lie there. A
desperate, pathetic ploy to save Sophie. Teabing felt a profound
disappointment in Robert
I am a lone knight, surrounded by unworthy souls. And I will have to
keystone on my own.
Langdon and Neveu were nothing but a threat to Teabing now... and
to the Grail. As
painful as the solution was going to be, he knew he could carry it out
with a clean
conscience. The only challenge would be to persuade Langdon to set
down the keystone
so Teabing could safely end this charade.
"A show of faith," Teabing said, lowering the gun from Sophie. "Set
down the keystone,
and we'll talk."
Langdon knew his lie had failed.
He could see the dark resolve in Teabing's face and knew the
moment was upon them.
When I set this down, he will kill us both. Even without looking at
Sophie, he could hear
her heart beseeching him in silent desperation. Robert, this man is
not worthy of the Grail.
Please do not place it in his hands. No matter what the cost.
Langdon had already made his decision several minutes ago, while
standing alone at the
window overlooking College Garden.
Protect the Grail.
Langdon had almost shouted out in desperation. But I cannot see
The stark moments of disillusionment had brought with them a
clarity unlike any he had
ever felt. The Truth is right before your eyes, Robert. He knew not
from where the
epiphany came. The Grail is not mocking you, she is calling out to a
Now, bowing down like a subject several yards in front of Leigh
lowered the cryptex to within inches of the stone floor.
"Yes, Robert," Teabing whispered, aiming the gun at him. "Set it
Langdon's eyes moved heavenward, up into the gaping void of the
Chapter House cupola.
Crouching lower, Langdon lowered his gaze to Teabing's gun, aimed
directly at him.
"I'm sorry, Leigh."
In one fluid motion, Langdon leapt up, swinging his arm skyward,
launching the cryptex
straight up toward the dome above.
Leigh Teabing did not feel his finger pull the trigger, but the
Medusa discharged with a
thundering crash. Langdon's crouched form was now vertical, almost
airborne, and the
bullet exploded in the floor near Langdon's feet. Half of Teabing's
brain attempted to
adjust his aim and fire again in rage, but the more powerful half
dragged his eyes upward
into the cupola.
Time seemed to freeze, morphing into a slow-motion dream as
Teabing's entire world
became the airborne keystone. He watched it rise to the apex of its
climb... hovering for a
moment in the void... and then tumbling downward, end over end,
back toward the stone
All of Teabing's hopes and dreams were plummeting toward earth.
It cannot strike the
floor! I can reach it! Teabing's body reacted on instinct. He
released the gun and heaved
himself forward, dropping his crutches as he reached out with his
soft, manicured hands.
Stretching his arms and fingers, he snatched the keystone from
Falling forward with the keystone victoriously clutched in his hand,
Teabing knew he
was falling too fast. With nothing to break his fall, his outstretched
arms hit first, and the
cryptex collided hard with the floor.
There was a sickening crunch of glass within.
For a full second, Teabing did not breathe. Lying there outstretched
on the cold floor,
staring the length of his outstretched arms at the marble cylinder
in his bare palms, he
implored the glass vial inside to hold. Then the acrid tang of vinegar
cut the air, and
Teabing felt the cool liquid flowing out through the dials onto his
Wild panic gripped him. NO! The vinegar was streaming now, and
Teabing pictured the
papyrus dissolving within. Robert, you fool! The secret is lost!
Teabing felt himself sobbing uncontrollably. The Grail is gone.
Shuddering in disbelief over Langdon's actions, Teabing tried to
force the cylinder apart,
longing to catch a fleeting glimpse of history before it dissolved
forever. To his shock, as
he pulled the ends of the keystone, the cylinder separated.
He gasped and peered inside. It was empty except for shards of
wet glass. No dissolving
papyrus. Teabing rolled over and looked up at Langdon. Sophie stood
beside him, aiming
the gun down at Teabing.
Bewildered, Teabing looked back at the keystone and saw it. The
dials were no longer at
random. They spelled a five-letter word: APPLE.
"The orb from which Eve partook," Langdon said coolly, "incurring
the Holy wrath of
God. Original sin. The symbol of the fall of the sacred feminine."
Teabing felt the truth come crashing down on him in excruciating
austerity. The orb that
ought be on Newton's tomb could be none other than the Rosy apple
that fell from heaven,
struck Newton on the head, and inspired his life's work. His labor's
fruit! The Rosy flesh
with a seeded womb!
"Robert," Teabing stammered, overwhelmed. "You opened it.
Where... is the map?"
Without blinking, Langdon reached into the breast pocket of his
tweed coat and carefully
extracted a delicate rolled papyrus. Only a few yards from where
Teabing lay, Langdon
unrolled the scroll and looked at it. After a long moment, a knowing
He knows! Teabing's heart craved that knowledge. His life's dream
was right in front of
him. "Tell me!" Teabing demanded. "Please! Oh God, please! It's not
As the sound of heavy footsteps thundered down the hall toward
the Chapter House,
Langdon quietly rolled the papyrus and slipped it back in his pocket.
"No!" Teabing cried out, trying in vain to stand.
When the doors burst open, Bezu Fache entered like a bull into a
ring, his feral eyes
scanning, finding his targetLeigh Teabinghelpless on the floor.
Exhaling in relief, Fache
holstered his Manurhin sidearm and turned to Sophie. "Agent
Neveu, I am relieved you
and Mr. Langdon are safe. You should have come in when I asked."
The British police entered on Fache's heels, seizing the anguished
prisoner and placing
him in handcuffs.
Sophie seemed stunned to see Fache. "How did you find us?"
Fache pointed to Teabing. "He made the mistake of showing his ID
when he entered the
abbey. The guards heard a police broadcast about our search for
"It's in Langdon's pocket!" Teabing was screaming like a madman.
"The map to the Holy
As they hoisted Teabing and carried him out, he threw back his
head and howled. "Robert!
Tell me where it's hidden!"
As Teabing passed, Langdon looked him in the eye. "Only the worthy
find the Grail,
Leigh. You taught me that."
The mist had settled low on Kensington Gardens as Silas limped into
a quiet hollow out
of sight. Kneeling on the wet grass, he could feel a warm stream of
blood flowing from
the bullet wound below his ribs. Still, he stared straight ahead.
The fog made it look like heaven here.
Raising his bloody hands to pray, he watched the raindrops caress
his fingers, turning
them white again. As the droplets fell harder across his back and
shoulders, he could feel
his body disappearing bit by bit into the mist.
I am a ghost.
A breeze rustled past him, carrying the damp, earthy scent of new
life. With every living
cell in his broken body, Silas prayed. He prayed for forgiveness. He
prayed for mercy.
And, above all, he prayed for his mentor... Bishop Aringarosa... that
the Lord would not
take him before his time. He has so much work left to do.
The fog was swirling around him now, and Silas felt so light that he
was sure the wisps
would carry him away. Closing his eyes, he said a final prayer.
From somewhere in the mist, the voice of Manuel Aringarosa
whispered to him.
Our Lord is a good and merciful God.
Silas's pain at last began to fade, and he knew the bishop was right.
It was late afternoon when the London sun broke through and the
city began to dry. Bezu
Fache felt weary as he emerged from the interrogation room and
hailed a cab. Sir Leigh
Teabing had vociferously proclaimed his innocence, and yet from his
about the Holy Grail, secret documents, and mysterious
brotherhoods, Fache suspected
the wily historian was setting the stage for his lawyers to plead an
Sure, Fache thought. Insane. Teabing had displayed ingenious
precision in formulating a
plan that protected his innocence at every turn. He had exploited
both the Vatican and
Opus Dei, two groups that turned out to be completely innocent. His
dirty work had been
carried out unknowingly by a fanatical monk and a desperate bishop.
More clever still,
Teabing had situated his electronic listening post in the one place a
man with polio could
not possibly reach. The actual surveillance had been carried out by
Rémythe lone person privy to Teabing's true identitynow
conveniently dead of an allergic reaction. Hardly the handiwork of
someone lacking mental faculties, Fache thought. The information
coming from Collet out of Château Villette suggested that Teabing's
cunning ran so deep that Fache himself might even learn from it. To
successfully hide bugs in some of Paris's most powerful offices, the
British historian had turned to the Greeks. Trojan horses. Some of
Teabing's intended targets received lavish gifts of artwork, others
unwittingly bid at auctions in which Teabing had placed specific lots.
In Saunière's case, the curator had received a dinner invitation to
Château Villette to discuss the possibility of Teabing's funding a
new Da Vinci Wing at the Louvre. Saunière's invitation had
contained an innocuous postscript expressing fascination with a
robotic knight that Saunière was rumored to have built. Bring him to
dinner, Teabing had suggested. Saunière apparently had done just
that and left the knight unattended long enough for Rémy Legaludec
to make one inconspicuous addition. Now, sitting in the back of the
cab, Fache closed his eyes. One more thing to attend to before I
return to Paris.
The St. Mary's Hospital recovery room was sunny. "You've
impressed us all," the nurse said, smiling down at him. "Nothing
short of miraculous." Bishop Aringarosa gave a weak smile. "I have
always been blessed." The nurse finished puttering, leaving the
bishop alone. The sunlight felt welcome and warm on his face. Last
night had been the darkest night of his life. Despondently, he
thought of Silas, whose body had been found in the park. Please
forgive me, my son. Aringarosa had longed for Silas to be part of his
glorious plan. Last night, however, Aringarosa had received a call
from Bezu Fache, questioning the bishop about his apparent
connection to a nun who had been murdered in Saint-Sulpice.
Aringarosa realized the evening had taken a horrifying turn. News
of the four additional murders transformed his horror to anguish.
Silas, what have you done! Unable to reach the Teacher, the bishop
knew he had been cut loose. Used. The only way to stop the horrific
chain of events he had helped put in motion was to confess
everything to Fache, and from that moment on, Aringarosa and
Fache had been racing to catch up with Silas before the Teacher
persuaded him to kill again. Feeling bone weary, Aringarosa closed
his eyes and listened to the television coverage of the arrest of a
prominent British knight, Sir Leigh Teabing. The Teacher laid bare
for all to see. Teabing had caught wind of the Vatican's plans to
disassociate itself from Opus Dei. He had chosen Aringarosa as the
perfect pawn in his plan. After all, who more likely to leap blindly
after the Holy Grail than a man like myself with everything to lose?
The Grail would have brought enormous power to anyone who
possessed it. Leigh Teabing had protected his identity
shrewdlyfeigning a French accent and a pious heart, and demanding
as payment the one thing he did not needmoney. Aringarosa had
been far too eager to be suspicious. The price tag of twenty million
euro was paltry when compared with the prize of obtaining the
Grail, and with the Vatican's separation payment to Opus Dei, the
finances had worked nicely. The blind see what they want to see.
Teabing's ultimate insult, of course, had been to demand payment in
Vatican bonds, such that if anything went wrong, the investigation
would lead to Rome. "I am glad to see you're well, My Lord."
Aringarosa recognized the gruff voice in the doorway, but the face
was unexpectedstern, powerful features, slicked-back hair, and a
broad neck that strained against his dark suit. "Captain Fache?"
Aringarosa asked. The compassion and concern the captain had
shown for Aringarosa's plight last night had conjured images of a
far gentler physique. The captain approached the bed and hoisted a
familiar, heavy black briefcase onto a chair. "I believe this belongs
to you." Aringarosa looked at the briefcase filled with bonds and
immediately looked away, feeling only shame. "Yes... thank you." He
paused while working his fingers across the seam of his bedsheet,
then continued. "Captain, I have been giving this deep thought, and I
need to ask a favor of you." "Of course." "The families of those in
Paris who Silas..." He paused, swallowing the emotion. "I realize no
sum could possibly serve as sufficient restitution, and yet, if you
could be kind enough to divide the contents of this briefcase among
them... the families of the deceased." Fache's dark eyes studied him
a long moment. "A virtuous gesture, My Lord. I will see to it your
wishes are carried out." A heavy silence fell between them. On the
television, a lean French police officer was giving a press conference
in front of a sprawling mansion. Fache saw who it was and turned his
attention to the screen. "Lieutenant Collet," a BBC reporter said,
her voice accusing. "Last night, your captain publicly charged two
innocent people with murder. Will Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu
be seeking accountability from your department? Will this cost
Captain Fache his job?" Lieutenant Collet's smile was tired but calm.
"It is my experience that Captain Bezu Fache seldom makes
mistakes. I have not yet spoken to him on this matter, but knowing
how he operates, I suspect his public manhunt for Agent Neveu and
Mr. Langdon was part of a ruse to lure out the real killer." The
reporters exchanged surprised looks. Collet continued. "Whether or
not Mr. Langdon and Agent Neveu were willing participants in the
sting, I do not know. Captain Fache tends to keep his more creative
methods to himself. All I can confirm at this point is that the
captain has successfully arrested the man responsible, and that Mr.
Langdon and Agent Neveu are both innocent and safe." Fache had a
faint smile on his lips as he turned back to Aringarosa. "A good man,
that Collet." Several moments passed. Finally, Fache ran his hand
over his forehead, slicking back his hair as he gazed down at
Aringarosa. "My Lord, before I return to Paris, there is one final
matter I'd like to discussyour impromptu flight to London. You
bribed a pilot to change course. In doing so, you broke a number of
international laws." Aringarosa slumped. "I was desperate." "Yes. As
was the pilot when my men interrogated him." Fache reached in his
pocket and produced a purple amethyst ring with a familiar hand-
tooled mitre-crozier appliqué.
Aringarosa felt tears welling as he accepted the ring and slipped it
back on his finger.
"You've been so kind." He held out his hand and clasped Fache's.
Fache waved off the gesture, walking to the window and gazing out
at the city, his
thoughts obviously far away. When he turned, there was an
uncertainty about him. "My
Lord, where do you go from here?"
Aringarosa had been asked the exact same question as he left
Castel Gandolfo the night
before. "I suspect my path is as uncertain as yours."
"Yes." Fache paused. "I suspect I will be retiring early."
Aringarosa smiled. "A little faith can do wonders, Captain. A little
Rosslyn Chapeloften called the Cathedral of Codesstands seven
miles south of Edinburgh,
Scotland, on the site of an ancient Mithraic temple. Built by the
Knights Templar in 1446,
the chapel is engraved with a mind-boggling array of symbols from
the Jewish, Christian,
Egyptian, Masonic, and pagan traditions.
The chapel's geographic coordinates fall precisely on the north-
south meridian that runs
through Glastonbury. This longitudinal Rose Line is the traditional
marker of King
Arthur's Isle of Avalon and is considered the central pillar of
Britain's sacred geometry. It
is from this hallowed Rose Line that Rosslynoriginally spelled
Roslintakes its name.
Rosslyn's rugged spires were casting long evening shadows as Robert
Sophie Neveu pulled their rental car into the grassy parking area at
the foot of the bluff
on which the chapel stood. Their short flight from London to
Edinburgh had been restful,
although neither of them had slept for the anticipation of what lay
ahead. Gazing up at the
stark edifice framed against a cloud-swept sky, Langdon felt like
Alice falling headlong
into the rabbit hole. This must be a dream. And yet he knew the
text of Saunière's final
message could not have been more specific.
The Holy Grail 'neath ancient Roslin waits.
Langdon had fantasized that Saunière's "Grail map" would be a
diagrama drawing with
an X-marks-the-spotand yet the Priory's final secret had been
unveiled in the same way
Saunière had spoken to them from the beginning. Simple verse. Four
explicit lines that
pointed without a doubt to this very spot. In addition to identifying
Rosslyn by name, the
verse made reference to several of the chapel's renowned
Despite the clarity of Saunière's final revelation, Langdon had been
left feeling more off
balance than enlightened. To him, Rosslyn Chapel seemed far too
obvious a location. For
centuries, this stone chapel had echoed with whispers of the Holy
Grail's presence. The
whispers had turned to shouts in recent decades when ground-
penetrating radar revealed
the presence of an astonishing structure beneath the chapela
chamber. Not only did this deep vault dwarf the chapel atop it, but
it appeared to have no
entrance or exit. Archaeologists petitioned to begin blasting
through the bedrock to reach
the mysterious chamber, but the Rosslyn Trust expressly forbade
any excavation of the
sacred site. Of course, this only fueled the fires of speculation.
What was the Rosslyn
Trust trying to hide?
Rosslyn had now become a pilgrimage site for mystery seekers.
Some claimed they were
drawn here by the powerful magnetic field that emanated
inexplicably from these
coordinates, some claimed they came to search the hillside for a
hidden entrance to the
vault, but most admitted they had come simply to wander the
grounds and absorb the lore of the Holy Grail. Although Langdon
had never been to Rosslyn before now, he always chuckled when he
heard the chapel described as the current home of the Holy Grail.
Admittedly, Rosslyn once might have been home to the Grail, long
ago... but certainly no longer. Far too much attention had been drawn
to Rosslyn in past decades, and sooner or later someone would find a
way to break into the vault. True Grail academics agreed that
Rosslyn was a decoyone of the devious dead ends the Priory crafted
so convincingly. Tonight, however, with the Priory's keystone
offering a verse that pointed directly to this spot, Langdon no
longer felt so smug. A perplexing question had been running through
his mind all day: Why would Saunière go to such effort to guide us
to so obvious a location? There seemed only one logical answer.
There is something about Rosslyn we have yet to understand.
"Robert?" Sophie was standing outside the car, looking back at him.
"Are you corning?" She was holding the rosewood box, which Captain
Fache had returned to them. Inside, both cryptexes had been
reassembled and nested as they had been found. The papyrus verse
was locked safely at its coreminus the shattered vial of vinegar.
Making their way up the long gravel path, Langdon and Sophie
passed the famous west wall of the chapel. Casual visitors assumed
this oddly protruding wall was a section of the chapel that had not
been finished. The truth, Langdon recalled, was far more intriguing.
The west wall of Solomon's Temple. The Knights Templar had
designed Rosslyn Chapel as an exact architectural blueprint of
Solomon's Temple in Jerusalemcomplete with a west wall, a narrow
rectangular sanctuary, and a subterranean vault like the Holy of
Holies, in which the original nine knights had first unearthed their
priceless treasure. Langdon had to admit, there existed an
intriguing symmetry in the idea of the Templars building a modern
Grail repository that echoed the Grail's original hiding place.
Rosslyn Chapel's entrance was more modest than Langdon expected.
The small wooden door had two iron hinges and a simple, oak sign.
ROSLIN This ancient spelling, Langdon explained to Sophie, derived
from the Rose Line meridian on which the chapel sat; or, as Grail
academics preferred to believe, from the "Line of Rose"the
ancestral lineage of Mary Magdalene. The chapel would be closing
soon, and as Langdon pulled open the door, a warm puff of air
escaped, as if the ancient edifice were heaving a weary sigh at the
end of a long day. Her entry arches burgeoned with carved
cinquefoils. Roses. The womb of the goddess. Entering with Sophie,
Langdon felt his eyes reaching across the famous sanctuary and
taking it all in. Although he had read accounts of Rosslyn's
arrestingly intricate stonework, seeing it in person was an
overwhelming encounter. Symbology heaven, one of Langdon's
colleagues had called it. Every surface in the chapel had been
carved with symbolsChristian cruciforms, Jewish stars, Masonic
seals, Templar crosses, cornucopias, pyramids, astrological signs,
plants, vegetables, pentacles, and roses. The Knights Templar had
been master stonemasons,
erecting Templar churches all over Europe, but Rosslyn was
considered their most
sublime labor of love and veneration. The master masons had left no
Rosslyn Chapel was a shrine to all faiths... to all traditions... and,
above all, to nature and
The sanctuary was empty except for a handful of visitors listening
to a young man giving
the day's last tour. He was leading them in a single-file line along a
well-known route on
the flooran invisible pathway linking six key architectural points
within the sanctuary.
Generations of visitors had walked these straight lines, connecting
the points, and their
countless footsteps had engraved an enormous symbol on the floor.
The Star of David, Langdon thought. No coincidence there. Also
known as Solomon's
Seal, this hexagram had once been the secret symbol of the
stargazing priests and was
later adopted by the Israelite kingsDavid and Solomon.
The docent had seen Langdon and Sophie enter, and although it was
closing time, offered
a pleasant smile and motioned for them to feel free to look around.
Langdon nodded his thanks and began to move deeper into the
however, stood riveted in the entryway, a puzzled look on her face.
"What is it?" Langdon asked.
Sophie stared out at the chapel. "I think... I've been here."
Langdon was surprised. "But you said you hadn't even heard of
"I hadn't..." She scanned the sanctuary, looking uncertain. "My
grandfather must have
brought me here when I was very young. I don't know. It feels
familiar." As her eyes
scanned the room, she began nodding with more certainty. "Yes."
She pointed to the front
of the sanctuary. "Those two pillars... I've seen them."
Langdon looked at the pair of intricately sculpted columns at the far
end of the sanctuary.
Their white lacework carvings seemed to smolder with a ruddy glow
as the last of the
day's sunlight streamed in through the west window. The
pillarspositioned where the altar
would normally standwere an oddly matched pair. The pillar on the
left was carved with
simple, vertical lines, while the pillar on the right was embellished
with an ornate,
Sophie was already moving toward them. Langdon hurried after her,
and as they reached
the pillars, Sophie was nodding with incredulity. "Yes, I'm positive I
have seen these!"
"I don't doubt you've seen them," Langdon said, "but it wasn't
She turned. "What do you mean?"
"These two pillars are the most duplicated architectural structures
in history. Replicas
exist all over the world."
"Replicas of Rosslyn?" She looked skeptical.
"No. Of the pillars. Do you remember earlier that I mentioned
Rosslyn itself is a copy of
Solomon's Temple? Those two pillars are exact replicas of the two
pillars that stood at the
head of Solomon's Temple." Langdon pointed to the pillar on the
left. "That's called
Boazor the Mason's Pillar. The other is called Jachinor the
Apprentice Pillar." He paused.
"In fact, virtually every Masonic temple in the world has two pillars
Langdon had already explained to her about the Templars' powerful
historic ties to the
modern Masonic secret societies, whose primary degreesApprentice
Fellowcraft Freemason, and Master Masonharked back to early
Templar days. Sophie's
grandfather's final verse made direct reference to the Master
Masons who adorned
Rosslyn with their carved artistic offerings. It also noted Rosslyn's
central ceiling, which
was covered with carvings of stars and planets.
"I've never been in a Masonic temple," Sophie said, still eyeing the
pillars. "I am almost
positive I saw these here." She turned back into the chapel, as if
looking for something
else to jog her memory.
The rest of the visitors were now leaving, and the young docent
made his way across the
chapel to them with a pleasant smile. He was a handsome young man
in his late twenties,
with a Scottish brogue and strawberry blond hair. "I'm about to
close up for the day. May
I help you find anything?"
How about the Holy Grail? Langdon wanted to say.
"The code," Sophie blurted, in sudden revelation. "There's a code
The docent looked pleased by her enthusiasm. "Yes there is,
"It's on the ceiling," she said, turning to the right-hand wall.
"Somewhere over... there."
He smiled. "Not your first visit to Rosslyn, I see."
The code, Langdon thought. He had forgotten that little bit of lore.
numerous mysteries was a vaulted archway from which hundreds of
protruded, jutting down to form a bizarre multifaceted surface.
Each block was carved
with a symbol, seemingly at random, creating a cipher of
unfathomable proportion. Some
people believed the code revealed the entrance to the vault beneath
Others believed it told the true Grail legend. Not that it
matteredcryptographers had been
trying for centuries to decipher its meaning. To this day the Rosslyn
Trust offered a
generous reward to anyone who could unveil the secret meaning, but
the code remained a
mystery. "I'd be happy to show..."
The docent's voice trailed off.
My first code, Sophie thought, moving alone, in a trance, toward the
Having handed the rosewood box to Langdon, she could feel herself
forgetting all about the Holy Grail, the Priory of Sion, and all the
mysteries of the past
day. When she arrived beneath the encoded ceiling and saw the
symbols above her, the
memories came flooding back. She was recalling her first visit here,
and strangely, the
memories conjured an unexpected sadness.
She was a little girl... a year or so after her family's death. Her
grandfather had brought
her to Scotland on a short vacation. They had come to see Rosslyn
Chapel before going
back to Paris. It was late evening, and the chapel was closed. But
they were still inside.
"Can we go home, Grand-père?" Sophie begged, feeling tired.
"Soon, dear, very soon." His voice was melancholy. "I have one last
thing I need to do
here. How about if you wait in the car?"
"You're doing another big person thing?"
He nodded. "I'll be fast. I promise."
"Can I do the archway code again? That was fun."
"I don't know. I have to step outside. You won't be frightened in
"Of course not!" she said with a huff. "It's not even dark yet!"
He smiled. "Very well then." He led her over to the elaborate
archway he had shown her
Sophie immediately plopped down on the stone floor, lying on her
back and staring up at
the collage of puzzle pieces overhead. "I'm going to break this code
before you get back!"
"It's a race then." He bent over, kissed her forehead, and walked to
the nearby side door.
"I'll be right outside. I'll leave the door open. If you need me, just
call." He exited into the
soft evening light.
Sophie lay there on the floor, gazing up at the code. Her eyes felt
sleepy. After a few
minutes, the symbols got fuzzy. And then they disappeared.
When Sophie awoke, the floor felt cold.
There was no answer. Standing up, she brushed herself off. The
side door was still open.
The evening was getting darker. She walked outside and could see
standing on the porch of a nearby stone house directly behind the
church. Her grandfather
was talking quietly to a person barely visible inside the screened
"Grand-père?" she called.
Her grandfather turned and waved, motioning for her to wait just a
moment. Then, slowly,
he said some final words to the person inside and blew a kiss toward
the screened door.
He came to her with tearful eyes.
"Why are you crying, Grand-père?"
He picked her up and held her close. "Oh, Sophie, you and I have
said good-bye to a lot
of people this year. It's hard."
Sophie thought of the accident, of saying good-bye to her mother
and father, her
grandmother and baby brother. "Were you saying goodbye to
"To a dear friend whom I love very much," he replied, his voice
heavy with emotion.
"And I fear I will not see her again for a very long time."
Standing with the docent, Langdon had been scanning the chapel
walls and feeling a
rising wariness that a dead end might be looming. Sophie had
wandered off to look at the
code and left Langdon holding the rosewood box, which contained a
Grail map that now
appeared to be no help at all. Although Saunière's poem clearly
Langdon was not sure what to do now that they had arrived. The
poem made reference to
a "blade and chalice," which Langdon saw nowhere.
The Holy Grail 'neath ancient Roslin waits.
The blade and chalice guarding o'er Her gates.
Again Langdon sensed there remained some facet of this mystery
yet to reveal itself.
"I hate to pry," the docent said, eyeing the rosewood box in
Langdon's hands. "But this
box... might I ask where you got it?"
Langdon gave a weary laugh. "That's an exceptionally long story."
The young man hesitated, his eyes on the box again. "It's the
grandmother has a box exactly like thata jewelry box. Identical
polished rosewood, same
inlaid rose, even the hinges look the same."
Langdon knew the young man must be mistaken. If ever a box had
been one of a kind, it
was this onethe box custom-made for the Priory keystone. "The two
boxes may be similar
The side door closed loudly, drawing both of their gazes. Sophie had
exited without a
word and was now wandering down the bluff toward a fieldstone
house nearby. Langdon
stared after her. Where is she going? She had been acting
strangely ever since they
entered the building. He turned to the docent. "Do you know what
that house is?"
He nodded, also looking puzzled that Sophie was going down there.
"That's the chapel
rectory. The chapel curator lives there. She also happens to be the
head of the Rosslyn
Trust." He paused. "And my grandmother."
"Your grandmother heads the Rosslyn Trust?"
The young man nodded. "I live with her in the rectory and help keep
up the chapel and
give tours." He shrugged. "I've lived here my whole life. My
grandmother raised me in
Concerned for Sophie, Langdon moved across the chapel toward the
door to call out to
her. He was only halfway there when he stopped short. Something
the young man said
My grandmother raised me.
Langdon looked out at Sophie on the bluff, then down at the
rosewood box in his hand.
Impossible. Slowly, Langdon turned back to the young man. "You said
has a box like this one?"
"Where did she get it?"
"My grandfather made it for her. He died when I was a baby, but
my grandmother still
talks about him. She says he was a genius with his hands. He made
all kinds of things."
Langdon glimpsed an unimaginable web of connections emerging. "You
grandmother raised you. Do you mind my asking what happened to
The young man looked surprised. "They died when I was young." He
paused. "The same
day as my grandfather."
Langdon's heart pounded. "In a car accident?"
The docent recoiled, a look of bewilderment in his olive-green eyes.
"Yes. In a car
accident. My entire family died that day. I lost my grandfather, my
parents, and..." He
hesitated, glancing down at the floor. "And your sister," Langdon
Out on the bluff, the fieldstone house was exactly as Sophie
remembered it. Night was
falling now, and the house exuded a warm and inviting aura. The
smell of bread wafted
through the opened screened door, and a golden light shone in the
windows. As Sophie
approached, she could hear the quiet sounds of sobbing from within.
Through the screened door, Sophie saw an elderly woman in the
hallway. Her back was
to the door, but Sophie could see she was crying. The woman had
long, luxuriant, silver
hair that conjured an unexpected wisp of memory. Feeling herself
drawn closer, Sophie
stepped onto the porch stairs. The woman was clutching a framed
photograph of a man
and touching her fingertips to his face with loving sadness.
It was a face Sophie knew well.
The woman had obviously heard the sad news of his death last night.
A board squeaked beneath Sophie's feet, and the woman turned
slowly, her sad eyes
finding Sophie's. Sophie wanted to run, but she stood transfixed.
The woman's fervent
gaze never wavered as she set down the photo and approached the
screened door. An
eternity seemed to pass as the two women stared at one another
through the thin mesh.
Then, like the slowly gathering swell of an ocean wave, the woman's
from one of uncertainty... to disbelief... to hope... and finally, to
Throwing open the door, she came out, reaching with soft hands,
cradling Sophie's thunderstruck face. "Oh, dear child... look at you!"
Although Sophie did not recognize her, she knew who this woman
was. She tried to speak but found she could not even breathe.
"Sophie," the woman sobbed, kissing her forehead. Sophie's words
were a choked whisper. "But... Grand-père said you were..." "I know."
The woman placed her tender hands on Sophie's shoulders and
gazed at her with familiar eyes. "Your grandfather and I were
forced to say so many things. We did what we thought was right.
I'm so sorry. It was for your own safety, princess." Sophie heard
her final word, and immediately thought of her grandfather, who
had called her princess for so many years. The sound of his voice
seemed to echo now in the ancient stones of Rosslyn, settling
through the earth and reverberating in the unknown hollows below.
The woman threw her arms around Sophie, the tears flowing faster.
"Your grandfather wanted so badly to tell you everything. But things
were difficult between you two. He tried so hard. There's so much
to explain. So very much to explain." She kissed Sophie's forehead
once again, then whispered in her ear. "No more secrets, princess.
It's time you learn the truth about our family."
Sophie and her grandmother were seated on the porch stairs in a
tearful hug when the young docent dashed across the lawn, his eyes
shining with hope and disbelief. "Sophie?" Through her tears,
Sophie nodded, standing. She did not know the young man's face,
but as they embraced, she could feel the power of the blood
coursing through his veins... the blood she now understood they
When Langdon walked across the lawn to join them, Sophie could not
imagine that only yesterday she had felt so alone in the world. And
now, somehow, in this foreign place, in the company of three people
she barely knew, she felt at last that she was home.
Night had fallen over Rosslyn. Robert Langdon stood alone on the
porch of the fieldstone house enjoying the sounds of laughter and
reunion drifting through the screened door behind him. The mug of
potent Brazilian coffee in his hand had granted him a hazy reprieve
from his mounting exhaustion, and yet he sensed the reprieve would
be fleeting. The fatigue in his body went to the core. "You slipped
out quietly," a voice behind him said. He turned. Sophie's
grandmother emerged, her silver hair shimmering in the night. Her
name, for the last twenty-eight years at least, was Marie Chauvel.
Langdon gave a tired smile. "I thought I'd give your family some
time together." Through the window, he could see Sophie talking
with her brother. Marie came over and stood beside him. "Mr.
Langdon, when I first heard of Jacques's murder, I was terrified
for Sophie's safety. Seeing her standing in my doorway tonight was
the greatest relief of my life. I cannot thank you enough."
Langdon had no idea how to respond. Although he had offered to
give Sophie and her grandmother time to talk in private, Marie had
asked him to stay and listen. My husband obviously trusted you, Mr.
Langdon, so I do as well. And so Langdon had remained, standing
beside Sophie and listening in mute astonishment while Marie told
the story of Sophie's late parents. Incredibly, both had been from
Merovingian familiesdirect descendants of Mary Magdalene and
Jesus Christ. Sophie's parents and ancestors, for protection, had
changed their family names of Plantard and Saint-Clair. Their
children represented the most direct surviving royal bloodline and
therefore were carefully guarded by the Priory. When Sophie's
parents were killed in a car accident whose cause could not be
determined, the Priory feared the identity of the royal line had
been discovered. "Your grandfather and I," Marie had explained in a
voice choked with pain, "had to make a grave decision the instant we
received the phone call. Your parents' car had just been found in
the river." She dabbed at the tears in her eyes. "All six of
usincluding you two grandchildrenwere supposed to be traveling
together in that car that very night. Fortunately we changed our
plans at the last moment, and your parents were alone. Hearing of
the accident, Jacques and I had no way to know what had really
happened... or if this was truly an accident." Marie looked at Sophie.
"We knew we had to protect our grandchildren, and we did what we
thought was best. Jacques reported to the police that your brother
and I had been in the car... our two bodies apparently washed off in
the current. Then your brother and I went underground with the
Priory. Jacques, being a man of prominence, did not have the luxury
of disappearing. It only made sense that Sophie, being the eldest,
would stay in Paris to be taught and raised by Jacques, close to the
heart and protection of the Priory." Her voice fell to a whisper.
"Separating the family was the hardest thing we ever had to do.
Jacques and I saw each other only very infrequently, and always in
the most secret of settings... under the protection of the Priory.
There are certain ceremonies to which the brotherhood always
stays faithful." Langdon had sensed the story went far deeper, but
he also sensed it was not for him to hear. So he had stepped
outside. Now, gazing up at the spires of Rosslyn, Langdon could not
escape the hollow gnaw of Rosslyn's unsolved mystery. Is the Grail
really here at Rosslyn? And if so, where are the blade and chalice
that Saunière mentioned in his poem? "I'll take that," Marie said,
motioning to Langdon's hand. "Oh, thank you." Langdon held out his
empty coffee cup. She stared at him. "I was referring to your other
hand, Mr. Langdon." Langdon looked down and realized he was
holding Saunière's papyrus. He had taken it from the cryptex once
again in hopes of seeing something he had missed earlier. "Of
course, I'm sorry." Marie looked amused as she took the paper. "I
know of a man at a bank in Paris who is probably very eager to see
the return of this rosewood box. André Vernet was a dear friend of
Jacques, and Jacques trusted him explicitly. André would have done
anything to honor Jacques's requests for the care of this box."
Including shooting me, Langdon recalled, deciding not to mention
that he had probably broken the poor man's nose. Thinking of Paris,
Langdon flashed on the three sénéchaux who had been killed the
night before. "And the Priory? What happens now?" "The wheels are
already in motion, Mr. Langdon. The brotherhood has endured for
centuries, and it will endure this. There are always those waiting to
move up and rebuild."
All evening Langdon had suspected that Sophie's grandmother was
closely tied to the
operations of the Priory. After all, the Priory had always had women
Grand Masters had been women. The sénéchaux were traditionally
yet women held far more honored status within the Priory and could ascend to the highest post from virtually any rank.
Langdon thought of Leigh Teabing and Westminster Abbey. It seemed a lifetime ago.
"Was the Church pressuring your husband not to release the
Sangreal documents at the End of Days?"
"Heavens no. The End of Days is a legend of paranoid minds. There is nothing in the
Priory doctrine that identifies a date at which the Grail should be unveiled. In fact the
Priory has always maintained that the Grail should never be unveiled."
"Never?" Langdon was stunned.
"It is the mystery and wonderment that serve our souls, not the
Grail itself. The beauty of the Grail lies in her ethereal nature." Marie Chauvel gazed up at
Rosslyn now. "For some, the Grail is a chalice that will bring them everlasting life. For others, it is the quest for lost documents and secret history. And for most, I suspect the Holy
Grail is simply a grand idea... a glorious unattainable treasure that somehow, even in today's world of chaos, inspires us."
"But if the Sangreal documents remain hidden, the story of Mary
Magdalene will be lost forever," Langdon said.
"Will it? Look around you. Her story is being told in art, music, and books. More so every day. The pendulum is swinging. We are starting to sense the dangers of our history... and of our destructive paths. We are beginning to sense the need to restore the sacred feminine." She paused. "You mentioned you are writing a manuscript about the symbols of the sacred feminine, are you not?"
She smiled. "Finish it, Mr. Langdon. Sing her song. The world needs modern troubadours."
Langdon fell silent, feeling the weight of her message upon him.
Across the open spaces,
a new moon was rising above the tree line.
Turning his eyes toward Rosslyn, Langdon felt a boyish craving to
know her secrets.
Don't ask, he told himself. This is not the moment. He glanced at
the papyrus in Marie's
hand, and then back at Rosslyn.
"Ask the question, Mr. Langdon," Marie said, looking amused. "You
have earned the right."
Langdon felt himself flush.
"You want to know if the Grail is here at Rosslyn."
"Can you tell me?"
She sighed in mock exasperation. "Why is it that men simply cannot let the Grail rest?"
She laughed, obviously enjoying herself. "Why do you think it's here?"
Langdon motioned to the papyrus in her hand. "Your husband's poem speaks specifically
of Rosslyn, except it also mentions a blade and chalice watching over the Grail. I didn't
see any symbols of the blade and chalice up there."
"The blade and chalice?" Marie asked. "What exactly do they look
Langdon sensed she was toying with him, but he played along, quickly describing the symbols.
A look of vague recollection crossed her face. "Ah, yes, of course.
The blade represents all that is masculine. I believe it is drawn like this, no?" Using her index finger, she traced a shape on her palm.
"Yes," Langdon said. Marie had drawn the less common "closed" form of the blade, although Langdon had seen the symbol portrayed both ways.
"And the inverse," she said, drawing again on her palm, "is the
chalice, which represents the feminine."
"Correct," Langdon said.
"And you are saying that in all the hundreds of symbols we have here in Rosslyn Chapel, these two shapes appear nowhere?"
"I didn't see them."
"And if I show them to you, will you get some sleep?"
Before Langdon could answer, Marie Chauvel had stepped off the porch and was heading toward the chapel. Langdon hurried after her. Entering the ancient building, Marie turned on the lights and pointed to the center of the sanctuary floor.
"There you are, Mr.
Langdon. The blade and chalice."
Langdon stared at the scuffed stone floor. It was blank. "There's nothing here...."
Marie sighed and began to walk along the famous path worn into the chapel floor, the same path Langdon had seen the visitors walking earlier this evening. As his eyes adjusted to see the giant symbol, he still felt lost. "But that's the
Star of Dav"
Langdon stopped short, mute with amazement as it dawned on him.
The blade and chalice. Fused as one.
The Star of David... the perfect union of male and female...
Solomon's Seal... marking the
Holy of Holies, where the male and female deitiesYahweh and
Shekinahwere thought to dwell.
Langdon needed a minute to find his words. "The verse does point
here to Rosslyn. Completely. Perfectly."
Marie smiled. "Apparently."
The implications chilled him. "So the Holy Grail is in the vault beneath us?"
She laughed. "Only in spirit. One of the Priory's most ancient charges was one day to return the Grail to her homeland of France where she could rest for eternity. For centuries, she was dragged across the countryside to keep her safe. Most undignified. Jacques's charge when he became Grand Master was to restore her honor by returning her to France and building her a resting place fit for a queen."
"And he succeeded?"
Now her face grew serious. "Mr. Langdon, considering what you've done for me tonight, and as curator of the Rosslyn Trust, I can tell you for certain that the Grail is no longer here."
Langdon decided to press. "But the keystone is supposed to point to the place where the
Holy Grail is hidden now. Why does it point to Rosslyn?"
"Maybe you're misreading its meaning. Remember, the Grail can be deceptive.As could my late husband."
"But how much clearer could he be?" he asked. "We are standing over an underground vault marked by the blade and chalice, underneath a ceiling of stars, surrounded by the art of Master Masons. Everything speaks of Rosslyn."
"Very well, let me see this mysterious verse." She unrolled the papyrus and read the poem aloud in a deliberate tone.
The Holy Grail 'neath ancient Roslin waits.
The blade and chalice guarding o'er Her gates. Adorned in masters' loving art, She lies.
She rests at last beneath the starry skies.
When she finished, she was still for several seconds, until a knowing smile crossed her lips. "Aah, Jacques."
Langdon watched her expectantly. "You understand this?"
"As you have witnessed on the chapel floor, Mr. Langdon, there are many ways to see simple things."
Langdon strained to understand. Everything about Jacques Saunière seemed to have double meanings, and yet Langdon could see no further.
Marie gave a tired yawn. "Mr. Langdon, I will make a confession to you. I have never officially been privy to the present location of the Grail. But, of course, I was married to a person of enormous influence... and my women's intuition is strong."
Langdon started to speak but Marie continued. "I am sorry that after all your hard work, you will be leaving Rosslyn without any real answers. And yet, something tells me you will eventually find what you seek. One day it will dawn on you." She smiled. "And when it does, I trust that you, of all people, can keep a secret."
There was a sound of someone arriving in the doorway. "Both of you disappeared,"
Sophie said, entering.
"I was just leaving," her grandmother replied, walking over to Sophie at the door. "Good night, princess." She kissed Sophie's forehead. "Don't keep Mr. Langdon out too late."
Langdon and Sophie watched her grandmother walk back toward the fieldstone house.
When Sophie turned to him, her eyes were awash in deep emotion.
"Not exactly the ending I expected."
That makes two of us, he thought. Langdon could see she was overwhelmed. The news she had received tonight had changed everything in her life. "Are you okay? It's a lot to take in."
She smiled quietly. "I have a family. That's where I'm going to start. Who we are and where we came from will take some time."
Langdon remained silent.
"Beyond tonight, will you stay with us?" Sophie asked. "At least for a few days?"
Langdon sighed, wanting nothing more. "You need some time here with your family,
Sophie. I'm going back to Paris in the morning."
She looked disappointed but seemed to know it was the right thing to do. Neither of them spoke for a long time. Finally Sophie reached over and, taking his hand, led him out of the chapel. They walked to a small rise on the bluff. From here, the
Scottish countryside spread out before them, suffused in a pale moonlight that sifted through the departing clouds. They stood in silence, holding hands, both of them fighting the descending shroud of exhaustion.
The stars were just now appearing, but to the east, a single point of light glowed brighter than any other. Langdon smiled when he saw it. It was Venus. The ancient Goddess shining down with her steady and patient light.
The night was growing cooler, a crisp breeze rolling up from the lowlands. After a while,
Langdon looked over at Sophie. Her eyes were closed, her lips relaxed in a contented smile. Langdon could feel his own eyes growing heavy. Reluctantly, he squeezed her hand. "Sophie?"
Slowly, she opened her eyes and turned to him. Her face was beautiful in the moonlight.
She gave him a sleepy smile. "Hi."
Langdon felt an unexpected sadness to realize he would be returning to Paris without her.
"I may be gone before you wake up." He paused, a knot growing in his throat. "I'm sorry,
I'm not very good at" Sophie reached out and placed her soft hand on the side of his face.
Then, leaning forward, she kissed him tenderly on the cheek. "When can I see you again?"
Langdon reeled momentarily, lost in her eyes. "When?" He paused, curious if she had any idea how much he had been wondering the same thing. "Well, actually, next month I'm lecturing at a conference in Florence. I'll be there a week without much to do."
"Is that an invitation?"
"We'd be living in luxury. They're giving me a room at the Brunelleschi."
Sophie smiled playfully. "You presume a lot, Mr. Langdon."
He cringed at how it had sounded. "What I meant"
"I would love nothing more than to meet you in Florence, Robert. But on one condition."
Her tone turned serious. "No museums, no churches, no tombs, no art, no relics." "In Florence? For a week? There's nothing else to do."
Sophie leaned forward and kissed him again, now on the lips. Their bodies came together, softly at first, and then completely. When she pulled away, her eyes were full of promise.
"Right," Langdon managed. "It's a date."
Robert Langdon awoke with a start. He had been dreaming. The bathrobe beside his bed bore the monogram HOTEL RITZ PARIS. He saw a dim light filtering through the blinds.
Is it dusk or dawn? he wondered.
Langdon's body felt warm and deeply contented. He had slept the better part of the last two days. Sitting up slowly in bed, he now realized what had awoken him... the strangest thought. For days he had been trying to sort through a barrage of information, but now
Langdon found himself fixed on something he'd not considered before.
Could it be?
He remained motionless a long moment.
Getting out of bed, he walked to the marble shower. Stepping inside, he let the powerful jets message his shoulders. Still, the thought enthralled him. Impossible.
Twenty minutes later, Langdon stepped out of the Hotel Ritz into
Place Vendôme. Night was falling. The days of sleep had left him disoriented... and yet his mind felt oddly lucid.
He had promised himself he would stop in the hotel lobby for a café au lait to clear his thoughts, but instead his legs carried him directly out the front door into the gathering Paris night.
Walking east on Rue des Petits Champs, Langdon felt a growing excitement. He turned south onto Rue Richelieu, where the air grew sweet with the scent of blossoming jasmine from the stately gardens of the Palais Royal.
He continued south until he saw what he was looking forthe famous royal arcadea glistening expanse of polished black marble. Moving onto it, Langdon scanned the surface beneath his feet. Within seconds, he found what he knew was thereseveral bronze medallions embedded in the ground in a perfectly straight line. Each disk was five inches in diameter and embossed with the letters N and S. Nord. Sud.
He turned due south, letting his eye trace the extended line formed by the medallions. He began moving again, following the trail, watching the pavement as he walked. As he cut across the corner of the Comédie-Française, another bronze medallion passed beneath his feet. Yes!
The streets of Paris, Langdon had learned years ago, were adorned with 135 of these bronze markers, embedded in sidewalks, courtyards, and streets, on a north-south axisacross the city. He had once followed the line from Sacré-Coeur, north across the Seine, and finally to the ancient Paris Observatory. There he discovered the significance of the sacred path it traced.
The earth's original prime meridian.
The first zero longitude of the world.
Paris's ancient Rose Line.
Now, as Langdon hurried across Rue de Rivoli, he could feel his destination within reach. Less than a block away.
The Holy Grail 'neath ancient Roslin waits.
The revelations were coming now in waves. Saunière's ancient spelling of Roslin... the blade and chalice... the tomb adorned with masters' art.
Is that why Saunière needed to talk with me? Had I unknowingly guessed the truth?
He broke into a jog, feeling the Rose Line beneath his feet, guiding him, pulling him toward his destination. As he entered the long tunnel of Passage
Richelieu, the hairs on his neck began to bristle with anticipation. He knew that at the end of this tunnel stood the most mysterious of Parisian monumentsconceived and commissioned in the 1980s by
the Sphinx himself, François Mitterrand, a man rumored to move in secret circles, a man whose final legacy to Paris was a place Langdon had visited only days before.
Another lifetime. With a final surge of energy, Langdon burst from the passageway
into the familiar courtyard and came to a stop. Breathless, he raised his eyes, slowly, disbelieving, to the glistening structure in front of him.
The Louvre Pyramid.
Gleaming in the darkness.
He admired it only a moment. He was more interested in what lay to his right. Turning, he felt his feet again tracing the invisible path of the ancient Rose
Line, carrying him across the courtyard to the Carrousel du Louvrethe enormous circle of grass surrounded by a perimeter of neatly trimmed hedgesonce the site of Paris's primeval nature- worshipping festivals... joyous rites to celebrate fertility and the Goddess.
Langdon felt as if he were crossing into another world as he stepped over the bushes to the grassy area within. This hallowed ground was now marked by one of the city's most unusual monuments. There in the center, plunging into the earth like a crystal chasm, gaped the giant inverted pyramid of glass that he had seen a few nights ago when he entered the Louvre's subterranean entresol.
La Pyramide Inversée.
Tremulous, Langdon walked to the edge and peered down into the Louvre's sprawling underground complex, aglow with amber light. His eye was trained not just on the massive inverted pyramid, but on what lay directly beneath it.
There, on the floor of the chamber below, stood the tiniest of structures... a structure
Langdon had mentioned in his manuscript.
Langdon felt himself awaken fully now to the thrill of unthinkable possibility. Raising his eyes again to the Louvre, he sensed the huge wings of the museum enveloping him... hallways that burgeoned with the world's finest art.
Da Vinci... Botticelli... Adorned in masters' loving art, She lies.
Alive with wonder, he stared once again downward through the glass at the tiny structure below.
I must go down there!
Stepping out of the circle, he hurried across the courtyard back toward the towering pyramid entrance of the Louvre. The day's last visitors were trickling out of the museum.
Pushing through the revolving door, Langdon descended the curved staircase into the pyramid. He could feel the air grow cooler. When he reached the bottom, he entered the long tunnel that stretched beneath the Louvre's courtyard, back toward La Pyramide Inversée.
At the end of the tunnel, he emerged into a large chamber. Directly before him, hanging down from above, gleamed the inverted pyramida breathtaking V- shaped contour of glass.
Langdon's eyes traced its narrowing form downward to its tip, suspended only six feet above the floor. There, directly beneath it, stood the tiny structure.
A miniature pyramid. Only three feet tall. The only structure in this colossal complex that had been built on a small scale.
Langdon's manuscript, while discussing the Louvre's elaborate collection of goddess art, had made passing note of this modest pyramid. "The miniature structure itself protrudes up through the floor as though it were the tip of an icebergthe apex, of an enormous,
pyramidical vault, submerged below like a hidden chamber."
Illuminated in the soft lights of the deserted entresol, the two pyramids pointed at one another, their bodies perfectly aligned, their tips almost touching.
The Chalice above. The Blade below.
The blade and chalice guarding o'er Her gates.
Langdon heard Marie Chauvel's words. One day it will dawn on you.
He was standing beneath the ancient Rose Line, surrounded by the work of masters. What better place for Saunière to keep watch? Now at last, he sensed he understood the true meaning of the Grand Master's verse. Raising his eyes to heaven, he gazed upward through the glass to a glorious, star-filled night.
She rests at last beneath the starry skies.
Like the murmurs of spirits in the darkness, forgotten words echoed. The quest for the
Holy Grail is the quest to kneel before the bones of Mary Magdalene. A journey to pray at the feet of the outcast one.
With a sudden up welling of reverence, Robert Langdon fell to his knees.
For a moment, he thought he heard a woman's voice... the wisdom of the ages... whispering up from the chasms of the earth.