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-old building.
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.”
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 began.
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 Nescafé.
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 in London.”
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- known Freemason.” Along with Mozart, Beethoven, Shakespeare, Gershwin, Houdini, and Disney. Volumes 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 Wagner’s opera 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 machine run.”
Over the next few minutes, the computer returned several more Grail references, including a text about troubadours—France’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 THE HOLY 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 suits—spades, hearts, clubs, diamonds—were Grail-related symbols that came directly from Tarot’s four suits of swords, cups, scepters, and pentacles.
Spades were Swords—The blade. Male. Hearts were Cups—The chalice. Feminine.
Clubs were Scepters—The Royal Line. The flowering staff. Diamonds were Pentacles—The 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 knight?”
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 Isaac Newton.”
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 comforted him.
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 intuition. Intuition 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 mausoleums—that of Queen Elizabeth I, whose canopied sarcophagus inhabits its own private, apsidal chapel
—down 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 state—from 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 event—the 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 addition—a large walk-through metal detector—now 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 ftnding 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 Teabing—a modern British knight—was a hostage in the search for his own countryman, Sir Isaac Newton.