Robert Langdon had often heard it said that an animal, when cornered, was capable of miraculous feats of strength. Nonetheless, when he threw his full force into the underside of his crate, nothing budged at all. Around him, the liquid continued rising steadily. With no more than six inches of breathing room left, Langdon had lifted his head into the pocket of air that remained. He was now face-to-face with the Plexiglas window, his eyes only inches away from the underside of the stone pyramid whose baffling engraving hovered above him.
I have no idea what this means.
Concealed for over a century beneath a hardened mixture of wax and stone dust, the Masonic Pyramids final inscription was now laid bare. The engraving was a perfectly square grid of symbols from every tradition imaginablealchemical, astrological, heraldic, angelic, magical, numeric, sigilic, Greek, Latin. As a totality, this was symbolic anarchya bowl of alphabet soup whose letters came from dozens of different languages, cultures, and time periods.
Symbologist Robert Langdon, in his wildest academic interpretations, could not fathom how this grid of symbols could be deciphered to mean anything at all. Order from this chaos? Impossible.
The liquid was now creeping over his Adams apple, and Langdon could feel his level of terror rising along with it. He continued banging on the tank. The pyramid stared back at him tauntingly.
In frantic desperation, Langdon focused every bit of his mental energy on the chessboard of symbols. What could they possibly mean? Unfortunately, the assortment seemed so disparate that he could not even imagine where to begin. Theyre not even from the same eras in history!
Outside the tank, her voice muffled but audible, Katherine could be heard tearfully begging for Langdons release. Despite his failure to see a solution, the prospect of death seemed to motivate every cell in his body to find one. He felt a strange clarity of mind, unlike anything he had ever experienced. Think! He scanned the grid intensely, searching for some cluea pattern, a hidden word, a special icon, anything at allbut he saw only a grid of unrelated symbols. Chaos.
With each passing second, Langdon had begun to feel an eerie numbness overtaking his body. It was as if his very flesh were preparing to shield his mind from the pain of death. The water was now threatening to pour into his ears, and he lifted his head as far as he could, pushing it against the top of the crate. Frightening images began flashing before his eyes. A boy in New England treading water at the bottom of a dark well. A man in Rome trapped beneath a skeleton in an overturned coffin.
Katherines shouts were growing more frantic. From all Langdon could hear, she was trying to reason with a madmaninsisting that Langdon could not be expected to decipher the pyramid without going to visit the Almas Temple. That building obviously holds the missing piece to this puzzle! How can Robert decipher the pyramid without all the information?!
Langdon appreciated her efforts, and yet he felt certain that Eight Franklin Square was not pointing to the Almas Temple. The time line is all wrong! According to legend, the Masonic Pyramid was created in the mid-1800s, decades before the Shriners even existed. In fact, Langdon realized, it was probably before the square was even called Franklin Square. The capstone could not possibly have been pointing to an unbuilt building at a nonexistent address. Whatever Eight Franklin Square was pointing to . . . it had to exist in 1850.
Unfortunately, Langdon was drawing a total blank.
He probed his memory banks for anything that could possibly fit the time line. Eight Franklin Square? Something that was in existence in 1850? Langdon came up with nothing. The liquid was trickling into his ears now. Fighting his terror, he stared up at the grid of symbols on the glass. I dont understand the connection! In a petrified frenzy, his mind began spewing all the far-flung parallels it could generate.
Eight Franklin Square . . . squares . . . this grid of symbols is a square . . . the square and the compass are Masonic symbols . . . Masonic altars are square . . . squares have ninety-degree angles. The water kept rising, but Langdon blocked it out. Eight Franklin . . . eight . . . this grid is eight-by-eight . . . Franklin has eight letters . . . The Order has eight letters . . . 8 is the rotated symbol for infinity . . . eight is the number of destruction in numerology . . .
Langdon had no idea.
Outside the tank, Katherine was still pleading, but Langdons hearing was now intermittent as the water was sloshing around his head.
. . . impossible without knowing . . . capstones message clearly . . . the secret hides within
Then she was gone.
Water poured into Langdons ears, blotting out the last of Katherines voice. A sudden womblike silence engulfed him, and Langdon realized he truly was going to die.
The secret hides within
Katherines final words echoed through the hush of his tomb.
The secret hides within . . .
Strangely, Langdon realized he had heard these exact words many times before.
The secret hides . . . within.
Even now, it seemed, the Ancient Mysteries were taunting him. The secret hides within was the core tenet of the mysteries, urging man kind to seek God not in the heavens above . . . but rather within himself. The secret hides within. It was the message of all the great mystical teachers.
The kingdom of God is within you, said Jesus Christ.
Know thyself, said Pythagoras.
Know ye not that ye are gods, said Hermes Trismegistus.
The list went on and on . . .
All the mystical teachings of the ages had attempted to convey this one idea. The secret hides within. Even so, mankind continued looking to the heavens for the face of God.
This realization, for Langdon, now became an ultimate irony. Right
now, with his eyes facing the heavens like all the blind men who preceded him, Robert Langdon
suddenly saw the light. It hit him like a bolt from above.
within The Order
Eight Franklin Square
In a flash he understood.
The message on the capstone was suddenly crystal clear. Its meaning had been staring him in the face all night. The text on the capstone, like the Masonic Pyramid itself, was a symbolona code in piecesa message written in parts. The capstones meaning was camouflaged in so simple a manner that Langdon could scarcely believe he and Katherine had not spotted it.
More astonishing still, Langdon now realized that the message on the capstone did indeed reveal exactly how to decipher the grid of symbols on the base of the pyramid. It was so very simple. Exactly as Peter Solomon had promised, the golden capstone was a potent talisman with the power to bring order from chaos.
Langdon began pounding on the lid and shouting, I know! I know!
Above him, the stone pyramid lifted off and hovered away. In its place, the tattooed face reappeared, its chilling visage staring down through the small window.
I solved it! Langdon shouted. Let me out!
When the tattooed man spoke, Langdons submerged ears heard nothing. His eyes, however, saw the lips speak two words. Tell me.
I will! Langdon screamed, the water almost to his eyes. Let me out! Ill explain everything! Its so simple.
The mans lips moved again. Tell me now . . . or die.
With the water rising through the final inch of air space, Langdon tipped his head back to keep his mouth above the waterline. As he did so, warm liquid poured into his eyes, blurring his vision. Arching his back, he pressed his mouth against the Plexiglas window.
Then, with his last few seconds of air, Robert Langdon shared the secret of how to decipher the
As he finished speaking, the liquid rose around his lips. Instinctively, Langdon drew a final breath and clamped his mouth shut. A moment later, the fluid covered him entirely, reaching the top of his tomb and spreading out across the Plexiglas.
He did it, Malakh realized. Langdon figured out how to solve the pyramid.
The answer was so simple. So obvious.
Beneath the window, the submerged face of Robert Langdon stared up at him with desperate and beseeching eyes.
Malakh shook his head at him and slowly mouthed the words: Thank you, Professor. Enjoy the afterlife.