Chapter 93-97

 

CHAPTER 93

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, Remy 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 Remy'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 Remy 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 Remy as they drove over here. Remy had shrugged. "That is a decision for the Teacher." There was an odd finality in his tone. 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 done.

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 muted electronic 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." "American?" 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."

CHAPTER 94

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 Russian ambassador.

The Teacher saw no pelicans today. The stormy weather had brought instead seagulls from the ocean. The lawns were covered with them - hundreds 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 tomb - the real reason he had told Remy to come to this spot.

As the Teacher approached the front passenger door of the parked limousine, Remy 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 Remy and closed the door.

Remy held up the keystone like a trophy. "It was almost lost." "You have done well," the Teacher said.

"We have done well," Remy 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 Remy. "Let's toast our success. The end is near."

Remy accepted the bottle gratefully. The cognac tasted salty, but Remy 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 Remy gazed down the embankment at the duck pond below, Chateau Villette seemed miles away.

Taking another swig from the flask, Remy could feel the cognac warming his blood. The warmth in Remy's throat, however, mutated quickly to an uncomfortable heat. Loosening his bow tie, Remy 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," Remy, 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, Remy felt a surge of fear, but the Teacher simply slipped it in his trousers pocket.

What is he doing? Remy felt himself sweating suddenly.

"I know I promised you freedom," the Teacher said, his voice now sounding regretful. "But considering your circumstances, this is the best I can do."

The swelling in Remy'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, Remy turned to see the Teacher sitting calmly beside him, staring straight ahead out the windshield. Remy'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 Remy all along or whether it had been Remy's actions in the Temple Church that had made the Teacher lose faith, Remy would never know. Terror and rage coursed through him now. Remy tried to lunge for the Teacher, but his stiffening body could barely move. I trusted you with everything!

Remy 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. Remy could no longer see, but he could sense his oxygen-deprived brain straining to cling to his last faint shreds of lucidity. As his world slowly went black, Remy 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. Ihad no choice, he told himself, surprised how little remorse he felt for what he had just done. Remy sealed his own fate.The Teacher had feared all along that Remy might need to be eliminated when the mission was complete, but by brazenly showing himself in the Temple Church, Remy had accelerated the necessity dramatically. Robert Langdon's unexpected visit to Chateau 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. Remy's prints were all over Chateau Villette, as well as in the barn's listening post, where Remy had carried out the surveillance. The Teacher was grateful he had taken so much care in preventing any ties between Remy's activities and his own. Nobody could implicate the Teacher unless Remy 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.Langdonand 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 Sauniere'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 it - a credit to Sauniere's wit - and 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-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!"

CHAPTER 95

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 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 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 withMozart, 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 LondonPhilharmonic 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 Londonin 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?"

Sophie nodded.

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 Sauniere, the master of double-entendres, had proven once again that he was a frighteningly clever man.

CHAPTER 96

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. Sowhy 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.

CHAPTER 97

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 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 Teabing - a modern British knight - was 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 entry - the door through which they had just passed - easy 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 docent."

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 books - Divinity, Chronology, Opticks, and Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica. At Newton's feet stood two winged boys holding a scroll. Behind Newton's recumbent body rosean 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 Sauniere'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 allkinds of heavenly bodies - constellations, 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 Sauniere'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.

***

***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com

***