Less than ten miles away, Malakh tucked the blanket around Peter Solomon and wheeled him across a moonlit parking lot into the shadow of an enormous building. The structure had exactly thirty-three outer columns . . . each precisely thirty-three feet tall. The mountainous structure was deserted at this hour, and nobody would ever see them back here. Not that it mattered. From a distance, no one would think twice about a tall, kindly-looking man in a long black coat taking a bald invalid for an evening stroll.
When they reached the rear entrance, Malakh wheeled Peter up close to the security keypad.
Peter stared at it defiantly, clearly having no intention of entering the code.
Malakh laughed. You think youre here to let me in? Have you forgotten so soon that I am one of your brethren? He reached out and typed the access code that he had been given after his initiation to the thirty-third degree.
The heavy door clicked open.
Peter groaned and began struggling in the wheelchair.
Peter, Peter, Malakh cooed. Picture Katherine. Be cooperative, and she will live. You can save her. I give you my word.
Malakh wheeled his captive inside and relocked the door behind them, his heart racing now with anticipation. He pushed Peter through some hallways to an elevator and pressed the call button. The doors opened, and Malakh backed in, pulling the wheelchair along with him. Then, making sure Peter could see what he was doing, he reached out and pressed the uppermost button.
A look of deepening dread crossed Peters tortured face.
Shh . . . Malakh whispered, gently stroking Peters shaved head as the elevator doors closed. As you well know . . . the secret is how to die.
I cant remember all the symbols!
Langdon closed his eyes, doing his best to recall the precise locations of the symbols on the bottom of the stone pyramid, but even his eidetic memory did not have that degree of recall. He wrote down the few symbols he could remember, placing each one in the location indicated by Franklins magic square.
So far, however, he saw nothing that made any sense.
Look! Katherine urged. You must be on the right track. The first row is all Greek lettersthe same kinds of symbols are being arranged together!
Langdon had noticed this, too, but he could not think of any Greek word that fit that configuration of letters and spaces. I need the first letter. He glanced again at the magic square, trying to recall the letter that had been in the number one spot near the lower left corner. Think! He closed his eyes, trying to picture the base of the pyramid. The bottom row . . . next to the left-hand corner . . . what letter was there?
For an instant, Langdon was back in the tank, racked with terror, staring up through the Plexiglas at the bottom of the pyramid.
Now, suddenly, he saw it. He opened his eyes, breathing heavily. The first letter is H!
Langdon turned back to the grid and wrote in the first letter. The word was still incomplete, but he had seen enough. Suddenly he realized what the word might be.
Pulse pounding, Langdon typed a new search into the BlackBerry. He entered the English equivalent of this well-known Greek word. The first hit that appeared was an encyclopedia entry. He read it and knew it had to be right.
HEREDOM n. a significant word in high degree Freemasonry, from French Rose Croix rituals, where it refers to a mythical mountain in Scotland, the legendary site of the first such Chapter. From the Greek µ originating from Hieros-domos, Greek for Holy House.
Thats it! Langdon exclaimed, incredulous. Thats where they went!
Sato had been reading over his shoulder and looked lost. To a mythical mountain in Scotland?!
Langdon shook his head. No, to a building in Washington whose code name is Heredom.