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Robert Langdon stared at the opening in the rear wall of the chamber. Hidden behind the canvas banner, a perfectly square hole had been hollowed out of the wall. The opening, about three feet across, appeared to have been created by removing a series of bricks. For a moment, in the darkness, Langdon thought the hole was a window to a room beyond.

Now he saw it was not.

The opening extended only a few feet into the wall before terminating. Like a rough-hewn cubbyhole, the recessed niche reminded Langdon of a museum alcove designed to hold a statuette. Fittingly, this niche displayed one small object.

About nine inches tall, it was a piece of carved, solid granite. The surface was elegant and smooth with four polished sides that shone in the candlelight.

Langdon could not fathom what it was doing here. A stone pyramid?

“From your look of surprise,” Sato said, sounding self-satisfied, “I take it this object is not

typical within a Chamber of Reflection?”

Langdon shook his head.

“Then perhaps you would like to reassess your previous claims regarding the legend of a Masonic Pyramid hidden in Washington?” Her tone now was almost smug.

“Director,” Langdon replied instantly, “this little pyramid is not the Masonic Pyramid.”

“So it is merely coincidence that we found a pyramid hidden at the heart of the U.S. Capitol in a secret chamber belonging to a Masonic leader?”

Langdon rubbed his eyes and tried to think clearly. “Ma’am, this pyramid doesn’t resemble the myth in any way. The Masonic Pyramid is described as enormous, with a tip forged of solid gold.”

Moreover, Langdon knew, this little pyramid—with its flat top—was not even a true pyramid. Without its tip, this was another symbol entirely. Known as an Unfinished Pyramid, it was a symbolic reminder that man’s ascent to his full human potential was always a work in progress. Though few realized it, this symbol was the most widely published symbol on earth. Over twenty billion in print. Adorning every one-dollar bill in circulation, the Unfinished Pyramid waited patiently for its shining capstone, which hovered above it as a reminder of America’s yet-unfulfilled destiny and the work yet to be done, both as a country and as individuals.

“Lift it down,” Sato said to Anderson, motioning to the pyramid. “I want a closer look.” She began making room on the desk by shoving the skull and crossed bones to one side with no reverence whatsoever.

Langdon was starting to feel like they were common grave robbers, desecrating a personal shrine.

Anderson maneuvered past Langdon, reached into the niche, and clamped his large palms on either side of the pyramid. Then, barely able to lift at this awkward angle, he slid the pyramid toward him and lowered it with a hard thud onto the wooden desk. He stepped back to give Sato room.

The director repositioned the candle close to the pyramid and studied its polished surface. Slowly, she ran her tiny fingers over it, examining every inch of the flat top, and then the sides. She wrapped her hands around to feel the back, then frowned in apparent disappointment. “Professor, earlier you said the Masonic Pyramid was constructed to protect secret information.”

“That’s the legend, yes.”

“So, hypothetically speaking, if Peter’s captor believed this was the Masonic Pyramid, he would believe it contained powerful information.”

Langdon nodded, exasperated. “Yes, although even if he found this information, he probably would not be able to read it. According to legend, the contents of the pyramid are encoded, making them indecipherable . . . except to the most worthy.”

“I beg your pardon?”

Despite Langdon’s growing impatience, he replied with an even tone. “Mythological treasures are always protected by tests of worthiness. As you may recall, in the legend of the Sword in the Stone, the stone refuses to give up the sword except to Arthur, who was spiritually prepared to wield the sword’s awesome power. The Masonic Pyramid is based on the same idea. In this case, the information is the treasure, and it is said to be written in an encoded language—a mystical tongue of lost words—legible only to the worthy.”

A faint smile crossed Sato’s lips. “That may explain why you were summoned here tonight.”

“I’m sorry?”

Calmly, Sato rotated the pyramid in place, turning it a full 180 degrees. The pyramid’s fourth side now shone in the candlelight.

Robert Langdon stared at it with surprise.

“It appears,” Sato said, “that someone believes you’re worthy.”