"Ten digits," Sophie said, her cryptologic senses tingling as she studied the printout.
Grand-pere wrote his account number on the Louvre floor!
When Sophie had first seen the scrambled Fibonacci sequence on the parquet, she had assumed its sole purpose was to encourage DCPJ to call in their cryptographers and get Sophie involved.Later, she realized the numbers were also a clue as to how to decipher the other lines - a sequence out of order...a numeric anagram.Now, utterly amazed, she saw the numbers had a more important meaning still. They were almost certainly the final key to opening her grandfather's mysterious safe- deposit box.
"He was the master of double-entendres," Sophie said, turning to Langdon. "He loved anything with multiple layers of meaning. Codes within codes."
Langdon was already moving toward the electronic podium near the conveyor belt. Sophie grabbed the computer printout and followed.
The podium had a keypad similar to that of a bank ATM terminal. The screen displayed the bank's cruciform logo. Beside the keypad was a triangular hole. Sophie wasted no time inserting the shaft of her key into the hole.
The screen refreshed instantly.
ACCOUNT NUMBER: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
The cursor blinked. Waiting.
Ten digits.Sophie read the numbers off the printout, and Langdon typed them in.
ACCOUNT NUMBER: 1 3 3 2 2 1 1 1 8 5
When he had typed the last digit, the screen refreshed again. A message in several languages appeared. English was on top.
Before you strike the enter key, please check the accuracy of your account number.
For your own security, if the computer does not recognize your account number, this system will automatically shut down.
"Fonction terminer,"Sophie said, frowning. "Looks like we only get one try." Standard ATM machines allowed users three attempts to type a PIN before confiscating their bank card. This was obviously no ordinary cash machine.
"The number looks right," Langdon confirmed, carefully checking what they had typed and comparing it to the printout. He motioned to the ENTER key. "Fire away."
Sophie extended her index finger toward the keypad, but hesitated, an odd thought now hitting her. "Go ahead," Langdon urged. "Vernet will be back soon." "No." She pulled her hand away. "This isn't the right account number." "Of course it is! Ten digits. What else would it be?" "It's too random."
Too random? Langdon could not have disagreed more. Every bank advised its customers to choose PINs at random so nobody could guess them. Certainly clients here would be advised to choose their account numbers at random.
Sophie deleted everything she had just typed in and looked up at Langdon, her gaze self-assured." It's far too coincidental that this supposedly random account number could be rearranged to form the Fibonacci sequence."
Langdon realized she had a point. Earlier, Sophie had rearranged this account number into the Fibonacci sequence. What were the odds of being able to do that?
Sophie was at the keypad again, entering a different number, as if from memory. "Moreover, with my grandfather's love of symbolism and codes, it seems to follow that he would have chosen an account number that had meaning to him, something he could easily remember." She finished typing the entry and gave a sly smile. "Something that appeared random... but was not." Langdon looked at the screen.
ACCOUNT NUMBER: 1123581321
It took him an instant, but when Langdon spotted it, he knew she was right.
The Fibonacci sequence.
When the Fibonacci sequence was melded into a single ten-digit number, it became virtually unrecognizable. Easy to remember, and yet seemingly random.A brilliant ten-digit code that Sauniere would never forget. Furthermore, it perfectly explained why the scrambled numbers on the Louvre floor could be rearranged to form the famous progression. Sophie reached down and pressed the ENTER key. Nothing happened.
At least nothing they could detect.
At that moment, beneath them, in the bank's cavernous subterranean vault, a robotic claw sprang to life. Sliding on a double-axis transport system attached to the ceiling, the claw headed off in search of the proper coordinates. On the cement floor below, hundreds of identical plastic crates lay aligned on an enormous grid... like rows of small coffins in an underground crypt.
Whirring to a stop over the correct spot on the floor, the claw dropped down, an electric eye confirming the bar code on the box. Then, with computer precision, the claw grasped the heavy handle and hoisted the crate vertically. New gears engaged, and the claw transported the box to the far side of the vault, coming to a stop over a stationary conveyor belt. Gently now, the retrieval arm set down the crate and retracted. Once the arm was clear, the conveyor belt whirred to life... .
Upstairs, Sophie and Langdon exhaled in relief to see the conveyor belt move. Standing beside the belt, they felt like weary travelers at baggage claim awaiting a mysterious piece of luggage whose contents were unknown.
The conveyor belt entered the room on their right through a narrow slit beneath a retractable door. The metal door slid up, and a huge plastic box appeared, emerging from the depths on the inclined conveyor belt. The box was black, heavy molded plastic, and far larger than she imagined. It looked like an air-freight pet transport crate without any air holes. The box coasted to a stop directly in front of them. Langdon and Sophie stood there, silent, staring at the mysterious container.
Like everything else about this bank, this crate was industrial - metal clasps, a bar code sticker on top, and molded heavy-duty handle. Sophie thought it looked like a giant toolbox.
Wasting no time, Sophie unhooked the two buckles facing her. Then she glanced over at Langdon. Together, they raised the heavy lid and let it fall back.
Stepping forward, they peered down into the crate.
At first glance, Sophie thought the crate was empty. Then she saw something. Sitting at the bottom of the crate. A lone item.
The polished wooden box was about the size of a shoebox and had ornate hinges. The wood was a lustrous deep purple with a strong grain. Rosewood, Sophie realized. Her grandfather's favorite. The lid bore a beautiful inlaid design of a rose. She and Langdon exchanged puzzled looks. Sophie leaned in and grabbed the box, lifting it out.
My God, it's heavy!
She carried it gingerly to a large receiving table and set it down. Langdon stood beside her, both of them staring at the small treasure chest her grandfather apparently had sent them to retrieve.
Langdon stared in wonderment at the lid's hand-carved inlay - a five-petal rose. He had seen this type of rose many times. "The five-petal rose," he whispered," is a Priory symbol for the Holy Grail."
Sophie turned and looked at him. Langdon could see what she was thinking, and he was thinking it too. The dimensions of the box, the apparent weight of its contents, and a Priory symbol for the Grail all seemed to imply one unfathomable conclusion. The Cup of Christ is in this wooden box. Langdon again told himself it was impossible.
"It's a perfect size," Sophie whispered," to hold... a chalice."
It can't be a chalice.
Sophie pulled the box toward her across the table, preparing to open it. As she moved it, though, something unexpected happened. The box let out an odd gurgling sound.
Langdon did a double take. There's liquid inside?
Sophie looked equally confused. "Did you just hear... ?" Langdon nodded, lost. "Liquid." Reaching forward, Sophie slowly unhooked the clasp and raised the lid.
The object inside was unlike anything Langdon had ever seen. One thing was immediately clear to both of them, however. This was definitely not the Cup of Christ.
"The police are blocking the street," Andre Vernet said, walking into the waiting room. "Getting you out will be difficult." As he closed the door behind him, Vernet saw the heavy-duty plastic case on the conveyor belt and halted in his tracks. My God! They accessed Sauniere's account?
Sophie and Langdon were at the table, huddling over what looked to be a large wooden jewelry box. Sophie immediately closed the lid and looked up. "We had the account number after all," she said.
Vernet was speechless. This changed everything. He respectfully diverted his eyes from the box and tried to figure out his next move. I have to get them out of the bank! But with the police already having set up a roadblock, Vernet could imagine only one way to do that. "Mademoiselle Neveu, if I can get you safely out of the bank, will you be taking the item with you or returning it to the vault before you leave?"
Sophie glanced at Langdon and then back to Vernet. "We need to take it."
Vernet nodded. "Very well. Then whatever the item is, I suggest you wrap it in your jacket as we move through the hallways. I would prefer nobody else see it."
As Langdon shed his jacket, Vernet hurried over to the conveyor belt, closed the now empty crate, and typed a series of simple commands. The conveyor belt began moving again, carrying the plastic container back down to the vault. Pulling the gold key from the podium, he handed it to Sophie.
"This way please. Hurry."
When they reached the rear loading dock, Vernet could see the flash of police lights filtering through the underground garage. He frowned. They were probably blocking the ramp. Am I really going to try to pull this off? He was sweating now.
Vernet motioned to one of the bank's small armored trucks. Transport sur was another service offered by the Depository Bank of Zurich.
"Get in the cargo hold," he said, heaving open the massive rear door and motioning to the glistening steel compartment. "I'll be right back."
As Sophie and Langdon climbed in, Vernet hurried across the loading dock to the dock overseer's office, let himself in, collected the keys for the truck, and found a driver's uniform jacket and cap. Shedding his own suit coat and tie, he began to put on the driver's jacket. Reconsidering, he donned a shoulder holster beneath the uniform. On his way out, he grabbed a driver's pistol from the rack, put in a clip, and stuffed it in the holster, buttoning his uniform over it. Returning to the truck, Vernet pulled the driver's cap down low and peered in at Sophie and Langdon, who were standing inside the empty steel box.
"You'll want this on," Vernet said, reaching inside and flicking a wall switch to illuminate the lone courtesy bulb on the hold's ceiling. "And you'd better sit down. Not a sound on our way out the gate."
Sophie and Langdon sat down on the metal floor. Langdon cradled the treasure wadded in his tweed jacket. Swinging the heavy doors closed, Vernet locked them inside. Then he got in behind the wheel and revved the engine.
As the armored truck lumbered toward the top of the ramp, Vernet could feel the sweat already collecting beneath his driver's cap. He could see there were far more police lights in front than he had imagined. As the truck powered up the ramp, the interior gate swung inward to let him pass. Vernet advanced and waited while the gate behind him closed before pulling forward and tripping the next sensor. The second gate opened, and the exit beckoned.
Except for the police car blocking the top of the ramp.
Vernet dabbed his brow and pulled forward.
A lanky officer stepped out and waved him to a stop a few meters from the roadblock. Four patrol cars were parked out front.
Vernet stopped. Pulling his driver's cap down farther, he effected as rough a facade as his cultured upbringing would allow. Not budging from behind the wheel, he opened the door and gazed down at the agent, whose face was stern and sallow.
"Qu'est-ce qui se passe?" Vernet asked, his tone rough.
"Je suis Jerome Collet," the agent said. "Lieutenant Police Judiciaire." He motioned to the truck's cargo hold. "Qu'est-ce qu'ily a la dedans?"
"Hell if I know," Vernet replied in crude French. "I'm only a driver." Collet looked unimpressed. "We're looking for two criminals." Vernet laughed. "Then you came to the right spot. Some of these bastards I drive for have so much money they must be criminals."
The agent held up a passport picture of Robert Langdon. "Was this man in your bank tonight?"
Vernet shrugged. "No clue. I'm a dock rat. They don't let us anywhere near the clients. You need to go in and ask the front desk."
"Your bank is demanding a search warrant before we can enter."
Vernet put on a disgusted look. "Administrators. Don't get me started." "Open your truck, please." Collet motioned toward the cargo hold. Vernet stared at the agent and forced an obnoxious laugh. "Open the truck? You think I have keys? You think they trust us? You should see the crap wages I get paid."
The agent's head tilted to one side, his skepticism evident. "You're telling me you don't have keys to your own truck?"
Vernet shook his head. "Not the cargo area. Ignition only. These trucks get sealed by overseers on the loading dock. Then the truck sits in dock while someone drives the cargo keys to the drop-off. Once we get the call that the cargo keys are with the recipient, then I get the okay to drive. Not a second before. I never know what the hell I'm lugging."
"When was this truck sealed?"
"Must have been hours ago. I'm driving all the way up to St. Thurial tonight. Cargo keys are already up there."
The agent made no response, his eyes probing as if trying to read Vernet's mind.
A drop of sweat was preparing to slide down Vernet's nose. "You mind?" he said, wiping his nose with his sleeve and motioning to the police car blocking his way. "I'm on a tight schedule."
"Do all the drivers wear Rolexes?" the agent asked, pointing to Vernet's wrist.
Vernet glanced down and saw the glistening band of his absurdly expensive watch peeking out from beneath the sleeve of his jacket. Merde. "This piece of shit? Bought it for twenty euro from a Taiwanese street vendor in St. Germain des Pres. I'll sell it to you for forty." The agent paused and finally stepped aside. "No thanks. Have a safe trip." Vernet did not breathe again until the truck was a good fifty meters down the street. And now he had another problem. His cargo. Where do I take them?
Silas lay prone on the canvas mat in his room, allowing the lash wounds on his back to clot in the air. Tonight's second session with the Discipline had left him dizzy and weak. He had yet to remove the cilice belt, and he could feel the blood trickling down his inner thigh. Still, he could not justify removing the strap.
I have failed the Church.
Far worse, I have failed the bishop.
Tonight was supposed to be Bishop Aringarosa's salvation. Five months ago, the bishop had returned from a meeting at the Vatican Observatory, where he had learned something that left him deeply changed. Depressed for weeks, Aringarosa had finally shared the news with Silas.
"But this is impossible!" Silas had cried out. "I cannot accept it!"
"It is true," Aringarosa said. "Unthinkable, but true. In only six months."
The bishop's words terrified Silas. He prayed for deliverance, and even in those dark days, his trust in God and The Way never wavered. It was only a month later that the clouds parted miraculously and the light of possibility shone through.
Divine intervention, Aringarosa had called it.
The bishop had seemed hopeful for the first time. "Silas," he whispered," God has bestowed upon us an opportunity to protect The Way. Our battle, like all battles, will take sacrifice. Will you be a soldier of God?"
Silas fell to his knees before Bishop Aringarosa - the man who had given him a new life - and he said," I am a lamb of God. Shepherd me as your heart commands."
When Aringarosa described the opportunity that had presented itself, Silas knew it could only be the hand of God at work. Miraculous fate! Aringarosa put Silas in contact with the man who had proposed the plan - a man who called himself the Teacher. Although the Teacher and Silas never met face-to-face, each time they spoke by phone, Silas was awed, both by the profundity of the Teacher's faith and by the scope of his power. The Teacher seemed to be a man who knew all, a man with eyes and ears in all places. How the Teacher gathered his information, Silas did not know, but Aringarosa had placed enormous trust in the Teacher, and he had told Silas to do the same. "Do as the Teacher commands you," the bishop told Silas. "And we will be victorious."
Victorious.Silas now gazed at the bare floor and feared victory had eluded them. The Teacher had been tricked. The keystone was a devious dead end. And with the deception, all hope had vanished.
Silas wished he could call Bishop Aringarosa and warn him, but the Teacher had removed all their lines of direct communication tonight. For our safety.
Finally, overcoming enormous trepidation, Silas crawled to his feet and found his robe, which lay on the floor. He dug his cell phone from the pocket. Hanging his head in shame, he dialed. "Teacher," he whispered," all is lost." Silas truthfully told the man how he had been tricked." You lose your faith too quickly," the Teacher replied. "I have just received news. Most unexpected and welcome. The secret lives. Jacques Sauniere transferred information before he died. I will call you soon. Our work tonight is not yet done."
Riding inside the dimly lit cargo hold of the armored truck was like being transported inside a cell for solitary confinement. Langdon fought the all too familiar anxiety that haunted him in confined spaces. Vernet said he would take us a safe distance out of the city.Where? How far?
Langdon's legs had gotten stiff from sitting cross-legged on the metal floor, and he shifted his position, wincing to feel the blood pouring back into his lower body. In his arms, he still clutched the bizarre treasure they had extricated from the bank.
"I think we're on the highway now," Sophie whispered.
Langdon sensed the same thing. The truck, after an unnerving pause atop the bank ramp, had moved on, snaking left and right for a minute or two, and was now accelerating to what felt like top speed. Beneath them, the bulletproof tires hummed on smooth pavement. Forcing his attention to the rosewood box in his arms, Langdon laid the precious bundle on the floor, unwrapped his jacket, and extracted the box, pulling it toward him. Sophie shifted her position so they were sitting side by side. Langdon suddenly felt like they were two kids huddled over a Christmas present.
In contrast to the warm colors of the rosewood box, the inlaid rose had been crafted of a pale wood, probably ash, which shone clearly in the dim light. The Rose.Entire armies and religions had been built on this symbol, as had secret societies. The Rosicrucians.The Knights of the Rosy Cross.
"Go ahead," Sophie said. "Open it."
Langdon took a deep breath. Reaching for the lid, he stole one more admiring glance at the intricate woodwork and then, unhooking the clasp, he opened the lid, revealing the object within.
Langdon had harbored several fantasies about what they might find inside this box, but clearly he had been wrong on every account. Nestled snugly inside the box's heavily padded interior of crimson silk lay an object Langdon could not even begin to comprehend.
Crafted of polished white marble, it was a stone cylinder approximately the dimensions of a tennis ball can. More complicated than a simple column of stone, however, the cylinder appeared to have been assembled in many pieces. Six doughnut-sized disks of marble had been stacked and affixed to one another within a delicate brass framework. It looked like some kind of tubular, multi-wheeled kaleidoscope. Each end of the cylinder was affixed with an end cap, also marble, making it impossible to see inside. Having heard liquid within, Langdon assumed the cylinder was hollow.
As mystifying as the construction of the cylinder was, however, it was the engravings around the tube's circumference that drew Langdon's primary focus. Each of the six disks had been carefully carved with the same unlikely series of letters - the entire alphabet. The lettered cylinder reminded Langdon of one of his childhood toys - a rod threaded with lettered tumblers that could be rotated to spell different words.
"Amazing, isn't it?" Sophie whispered.
Langdon glanced up. "I don't know. What the hell is it?"
Now there was a glint in Sophie's eye. "My grandfather used to craft these as a hobby. They were invented by Leonardo Da Vinci."
Even in the diffuse light, Sophie could see Langdon's surprise. "Da Vinci?" he muttered, looking again at the canister." Yes. It's called a cryptex.According to my grandfather, the blueprints come from one of Da Vinci's secret diaries." "What is it for?" Considering tonight's events, Sophie knew the answer might have some interesting implications. "It's a vault," she said. "For storing secret information."
Langdon's eyes widened further.
Sophie explained that creating models of Da Vinci's inventions was one of her grandfather's best-loved hobbies. A talented craftsman who spent hours in his wood and metal shop, Jacques Sauniere enjoyed imitating master craftsmen - Faberge, assorted cloisonne artisans, and the less artistic, but far more practical, Leonardo Da Vinci.
Even a cursory glance through Da Vinci's journals revealed why the luminary was as notorious for his lack of follow-through as he was famous for his brilliance. Da Vinci had drawn up blueprints for hundreds of inventions he had never built. One of Jacques Sauniere's favorite pastimes was bringing Da Vinci's more obscure brainstorms to life - timepieces, water pumps, cryptexes, and even a fully articulated model of a medieval French knight, which now stood proudly on the desk in his office. Designed by Da Vinci in 1495 as an outgrowth of his earliest anatomy and kinesiology studies, the internal mechanism of the robot knight possessed accurate joints and tendons, and was designed to sit up, wave its arms, and move its head via a flexible neck while opening and closing an anatomically correct jaw. This armor-clad knight, Sophie had always believed, was the most beautiful object her grandfather had ever built... that was, until she had seen the cryptex in this rosewood box.
"He made me one of these when I was little," Sophie said. "But I've never seen one so ornate and large."
Langdon's eyes had never left the box. "I've never heard of a cryptex."
Sophie was not surprised. Most of Leonardo's unbuilt inventions had never been studied or even named. The term cryptex possibly had been her grandfather's creation, an apt title for this device that used the science of cryptology to protect information written on the contained scroll or codex.
Da Vinci had been a cryptology pioneer, Sophie knew, although he was seldom given credit. Sophie's university instructors, while presenting computer encryption methods for securing data, praised modern cryptologists like Zimmerman and Schneier but failed to mention that it was Leonardo who had invented one of the first rudimentary forms of public key encryption centuries ago. Sophie's grandfather, of course, had been the one to tell her all about that.
As their armored truck roared down the highway, Sophie explained to Langdon that the cryptex had been Da Vinci's solution to the dilemma of sending secure messages over long distances. In an era without telephones or e-mail, anyone wanting to convey private information to someone far away had no option but to write it down and then trust a messenger to carry the letter. Unfortunately, if a messenger suspected the letter might contain valuable information, he could make far more money selling the information to adversaries than he could delivering the letter properly.
Many great minds in history had invented cryptologic solutions to the challenge of data protection: Julius Caesar devised a code-writing scheme called the Caesar Box; Mary, Queen of Scots created a transposition cipher and sent secret communiques from prison; and the brilliant Arab scientist Abu Yusuf Ismail al-Kindi protected his secrets with an ingeniously conceived polyalphabetic substitution cipher.
Da Vinci, however, eschewed mathematics and cryptology for a mechanical solution. The cryptex. A portable container that could safeguard letters, maps, diagrams, anything at all. Once information was sealed inside the cryptex, only the individual with the proper password could access it.
"We require a password," Sophie said, pointing out the lettered dials. "A cryptex works much like a bicycle's combination lock. If you align the dials in the proper position, the lock slides open. This cryptex has five lettered dials. When you rotate them to their proper sequence, the tumblers inside align, and the entire cylinder slides apart." "And inside?" "Once the cylinder slides apart, you have access to a hollow central compartment, which can hold a scroll of paper on which is the information you want to keep private."
Langdon looked incredulous. "And you say your grandfather built these for you when you were younger?"
"Some smaller ones, yes. A couple times for my birthday, he gave me a cryptex and told me a riddle. The answer to the riddle was the password to the cryptex, and once I figured it out, I could open it up and find my birthday card." "A lot of work for a card." "No, the cards always contained another riddle or clue. My grandfather loved creating elaborate treasure hunts around our house, a string of clues that eventually led to my real gift. Each treasure hunt was a test of character and merit, to ensure I earned my rewards. And the tests were never simple."
Langdon eyed the device again, still looking skeptical. "But why not just pry it apart? Or smash it? The metal looks delicate, and marble is a soft rock."
Sophie smiled. "Because Da Vinci is too smart for that. He designed the cryptex so that if you try to force it open in any way, the information self-destructs. Watch." Sophie reached into the box and carefully lifted out the cylinder. "Any information to be inserted is first written on a papyrus scroll."
Sophie shook her head. "Papyrus. I know sheep's vellum was more durable and more common in those days, but it had to be papyrus. The thinner the better."
"Before the papyrus was inserted into the cryptex's compartment, it was rolled around a delicate glass vial." She tipped the cryptex, and the liquid inside gurgled. "A vial of liquid."
Sophie smiled. "Vinegar."
Langdon hesitated a moment and then began nodding. "Brilliant."
Vinegar and papyrus, Sophie thought. If someone attempted to force open the cryptex, the glass vial would break, and the vinegar would quickly dissolve the papyrus. By the time anyone extracted the secret message, it would be a glob of meaningless pulp.
"As you can see," Sophie told him," the only way to access the information inside is to know the proper five-letter password. And with five dials, each with twenty-six letters, that's twenty-six to the fifth power." She quickly estimated the permutations. "Approximately twelve million possibilities."
"If you say so," Langdon said, looking like he had approximately twelve million questions running through his head. "What information do you think is inside?"
"Whatever it is, my grandfather obviously wanted very badly to keep it secret." She paused, closing the box lid and eyeing the five-petal Rose inlaid on it. Something was bothering her. "Did you say earlier that the Rose is a symbol for the Grail?"
"Exactly. In Priory symbolism, the Rose and the Grail are synonymous."
Sophie furrowed her brow. "That's strange, because my grandfather always told me the Rose meant secrecy.He used to hang a rose on his office door at home when he was having a confidential phone call and didn't want me to disturb him. He encouraged me to do the same." Sweetie, her grandfather said, rather than lock each other out, we can each hang a rose - la fleur des secrets - on our door when we need privacy.This way we learn to respect and trust each other.Hanging a rose is an ancient Roman custom.
"Sub rosa,"Langdon said. "The Romans hung a rose over meetings to indicate the meeting was confidential. Attendees understood that whatever was said under the rose - or sub rosa - had to remain a secret."
Langdon quickly explained that the Rose's overtone of secrecy was not the only reason the Priory used it as a symbol for the Grail. Rosa rugosa, one of the oldest species of rose, had five petals and pentagonal symmetry, just like the guiding star of Venus, giving the Rose strong iconographic ties to womanhood.In addition, the Rose had close ties to the concept of" true direction" and navigating one's way. The Compass Rose helped travelers navigate, as did Rose Lines, the longitudinal lines on maps. For this reason, the Rose was a symbol that spoke of the Grail on many levels - secrecy, womanhood, and guidance - the feminine chalice and guiding star that led to secret truth.
As Langdon finished his explanation, his expression seemed to tighten suddenly. "Robert? Are you okay?" His eyes were riveted to the rosewood box. "Sub...rosa,"he choked, a fearful bewilderment sweeping across his face. "It can't be."
Langdon slowly raised his eyes. "Under the sign of the Rose," he whispered. "This cryptex... I think I know what it is."
***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com