Vitamins, Supplements, Sport Nutrition

CHAPTER 70

A magic square. Katherine nodded as she eyed the numbered square in Dürer’s engraving. Most people would have thought Langdon had lost his mind, but Katherine had quickly realized he was right.

The term magic square referred not to something mystical but to something mathematical—it was the name given to a grid of consecutive numbers arranged in such a way that all the rows, columns, and diagonals added up to the same thing. Created some four thousand years ago by mathematicians in Egypt and India, magic squares were still believed by some to hold magical powers. Katherine had read that even nowadays devout Indians drew special three-by-three magic squares called the Kubera Kolam on their pooja altars. Primarily, though, modern man had relegated magic squares to the category of “recreational mathematics,” some people still deriving pleasure from the quest to discover new “magical” configurations. Sudoku for geniuses.

Katherine quickly analyzed Dürer’s square, adding up the numbers in several rows and columns.

16

3

2

13

5

10

11

8

9

6

7

12

4

15

14

1

“Thirty-four,” she said. “Every direction adds up to thirty-four.”

“Exactly,” Langdon said. “But did you know that this magic square is famous because Dürer accomplished the seemingly impossible?” He quickly showed Katherine that in addition to making the rows, columns, and diagonals add up to thirty-four, Dürer had also found a way to make the four quadrants, the four center squares, and even the four corner squares add up to that number. “Most amazing, though, was Dürer’s ability to position the numbers 15 and 14 together in the bottom row as an indication of the year in which he accomplished this incredible feat!”

Katherine scanned the numbers, amazed by all the combinations.

Langdon’s tone grew more excited now. “Extraordinarily, Melencolia I represents the very first time in history that a magic square appeared in European art. Some historians believe this was Dürer’s encoded way of indicating that the Ancient Mysteries had traveled outside the Egyptian Mystery Schools and were now held by the European secret societies.” Langdon paused. “Which brings us back to . . . this.”

He motioned to the slip of paper bearing the grid of letters from the stone pyramid.

S

O

E

U

A

T

U

N

C

S

A

S

V

U

N

J

“I assume the layout looks familiar now?” Langdon asked.

“Four-by-four square.”

Langdon picked up the pencil and carefully transcribed Dürer’s numbered magic square onto the slip of paper, directly beside the lettered square. Katherine was now seeing just how easy this was going to be. He stood poised, pencil in hand, and yet . . . strangely, after all this enthusiasm, he seemed to hesitate.

“Robert?”

He turned to her, his expression one of trepidation. “Are you sure we want to do this? Peter expressly—”

“Robert, if you don’t want to decipher this engraving, then I will.” She held out her hand for the pencil.

Langdon could tell there would be no deterring her and so he acquiesced, turning his attention back to the pyramid. Carefully, he superimposed the magic square over the pyramid’s grid of letters and assigned each letter a number. Then he created a new grid, placing the Masonic cipher’s letters in the new order as defined by the sequence in Dürer’s magic square.

When Langdon was finished, they both examined the result.

J

E

O

V

A

S

A

N

C

T

U

S

U

N

U

S

Katherine immediately felt confused. “It’s still gibberish.”

Langdon remained silent a long moment. “Actually, Katherine, it’s not gibberish.” His eyes brightened again with the thrill of discovery. “It’s . . . Latin.”

In a long, dark corridor, an old blind man shuffled as quickly as he could toward his office. When he finally arrived, he collapsed in his desk chair, his old bones grateful for the reprieve. His answering machine was beeping. He pressed the button and listened.

“It’s Warren Bellamy,” said the hushed whisper of his friend and Masonic brother. “I’m afraid I have alarming news . . .”

Katherine Solomon’s eyes shot back to the grid of letters, reexamining the text. Sure enough, a Latin word now materialized before her eyes. Jeova.

J

E

O

V

A

S

A

N

C

T

U

S

U

N

U

S

Katherine had not studied Latin, but this word was familiar from her reading of ancient Hebrew texts. Jeova. Jehovah. As her eyes continued to trace downward, reading the grid like a book, she was surprised to realize she could read the entire text of the pyramid.

Jeova Sanctus Unus.

She knew its meaning at once. This phrase was ubiquitous in modern translations of Hebrew scripture. In the Torah, the God of the Hebrews was known by many names—Jeova, Jehovah, Jeshua, Yahweh, the Source, the Elohim—but many Roman translations had consolidated the confusing nomenclature into a single Latin phrase: Jeova Sanctus Unus.

“One true God?” she whispered to herself. The phrase certainly did not seem like something that would help them find her brother. “That’s this pyramid’s secret message? One true God? I thought this was a map.”

Langdon looked equally perplexed, the excitement in his eyes evaporating. “This decryption obviously is correct, but . . .”

“The man who has my brother wants to know a location.” She tucked her hair behind her ear. “This is not going to make him very happy.”

“Katherine,” Langdon said, heaving a sigh. “I’ve been afraid of this. All night, I’ve had a feeling we’re treating as reality a collection of myths and allegories. Maybe this inscription is pointing to a metaphorical location—telling us that the true potential of man can be accessed only through the one true God.”

“But that makes no sense!” Katherine replied, her jaw now clenched in frustration. “My family protected this pyramid for generations! One true God? That’s the secret? And the CIA considers this an issue of national security? Either they’re lying or we’re missing something!”

Langdon shrugged in accord.

Just then, his phone began to ring.

In a cluttered office lined with old books, the old man hunched over his desk, clutching a phone receiver in his arthritic hand.

The line rang and rang.

At last, a tentative voice answered. “Hello?” The voice was deep but uncertain.

The old man whispered, “I was told you require sanctuary.”

The man on the line seemed startled. “Who is this? Did Warren Bell—”

“No names, please,” the old man said. “Tell me, have you successfully protected the map that was entrusted to you?”

A startled pause. “Yes . . . but I don’t think it matters. It doesn’t say much. If it is a map, it seems to be more metaphorical than—”

“No, the map is quite real, I assure you. And it points to a very real location. You must keep it safe. I cannot impress upon you enough how important this is. You are being pursued, but if you can travel unseen to my location, I will provide sanctuary . . . and answers.”

The man hesitated, apparently uncertain.

“My friend,” the old man began, choosing his words carefully. “There is a refuge in Rome, north of the Tiber, which contains ten stones from Mount Sinai, one from heaven itself, and one with the visage of Luke’s dark father. Do you know my location?”

There was a long pause on the line, and then the man replied, “Yes, I do.”

The old man smiled. I thought you might, Professor. “Come at once. Make sure you’re not followed.”