Washington National Cathedral is the sixth-largest cathedral in the world and soars higher than a thirty-story skyscraper. Embellished with over two hundred stained-glass windows, a fifty-three-bell carillon, and a 10,647-pipe organ, this Gothic masterpiece can accommodate more than three thousand worshippers.
Tonight, however, the great cathedral was deserted.
Reverend Colin Gallowaydean of the cathedrallooked like he had been alive forever. Stooped and withered, he wore a simple black cassock and shuffled blindly ahead without a word. Langdon and Katherine followed in silence through the darkness of the four-hundred-foot-long naves central aisle, which was curved ever so slightly to the left to create a softening optical illusion. When they reached the Great Crossing, the dean guided them through the rood screenthe symbolic divider between the public area and the sanctuary beyond.
The scent of frankincense hung in the air of the chancel. This sacred space was dark, illuminated only by indirect reflections in the foliated vaults overhead. Flags of the fifty states hung above the quire, which was ornately appointed with several carved reredos depicting biblical events. Dean Galloway continued on, apparently knowing this walk by heart. For a moment, Langdon thought they were headed straight for the high altar, where the ten stones from Mount Sinai were embedded, but the old dean finally turned left and groped his way through a discreetly hidden door that led into an administrative annex.
They moved down a short hallway to an office door bearing a brass nameplate:
THE REVEREND DR. COLIN GALLOWAY CATHEDRAL DEAN
Galloway opened the door and turned on the lights, apparently accustomed to remembering this courtesy for his guests. He ushered them in and closed the door.
The deans office was small but elegant, with high bookshelves, a desk, a carved armoire, and a private bathroom. On the walls hung sixteenth-century tapestries and several religious paintings. The old dean motioned to the two leather chairs directly opposite his desk. Langdon sat with Katherine and felt grateful finally to set his heavy shoulder bag on the floor at his feet.
Sanctuary and answers, Langdon thought, settling into the comfortable chair.
The aged man shuffled around behind his desk and eased himself down into his high-backed
chair. Then, with a weary sigh, he raised his head, staring blankly out at them through clouded eyes. When he spoke, his voice was unexpectedly clear and strong.
I realize we have never met, the old man said, and yet I feel I know you both. He took out a handkerchief and dabbed his mouth. Professor Langdon, I am familiar with your writings, including the clever piece you did on the symbolism of this cathedral. And, Ms. Solomon, your brother, Peter, and I have been Masonic brothers for many years now.
Peter is in terrible trouble, Katherine said.
So I have been told. The old man sighed. And I will do everything in my power to help you.
Langdon saw no Masonic ring on the deans finger, and yet he knew many Masons, especially those within the clergy, chose not to advertise their affiliation.
As they began to talk, it became clear that Dean Galloway already knew some of the nights events from Warren Bellamys phone message. As Langdon and Katherine filled him in on the rest, the dean looked more and more troubled.
And this man who has taken our beloved Peter, the dean said, he is insisting you decipher the pyramid in exchange for Peters life?
Yes, Langdon said. He thinks its a map that will lead him to the hiding place of the Ancient Mysteries.
The dean turned his eerie, opaque eyes toward Langdon. My ears tell me you do not believe in such things.
Langdon did not want to waste time going down this road. It doesnt matter what I believe. We need to help Peter. Unfortunately, when we deciphered the pyramid, it pointed nowhere.
The old man sat straighter. Youve deciphered the pyramid?
Katherine interceded now, quickly explaining that despite Bellamys warnings and her brothers request that Langdon not unwrap the package, she had done so, feeling her first priority was to help her brother however she could. She told the dean about the golden capstone, Albrecht Dürers magic square, and how it decrypted the sixteen-letter Masonic cipher into the phrase Jeova Sanctus Unus.
Thats all it says? the dean asked. One True God?
Yes, sir, Langdon replied. Apparently the pyramid is more of a metaphorical map than a geographic one.
The dean held out his hands. Let me feel it.
Langdon unzipped his bag and pulled out the pyramid, which he carefully hoisted up on the desk, setting it directly in front of the reverend.
Langdon and Katherine watched as the old mans frail hands examined every inch of the stone the engraved side, the smooth base, and the truncated top. When he was finished, he held out his hands again. And the capstone?
Langdon retrieved the small stone box, set it on the desk, and opened the lid. Then he removed the capstone and placed it into the old mans waiting hands. The dean performed a similar examination, feeling every inch, pausing on the capstones engraving, apparently having some trouble reading the small, elegantly inscribed text.
The secret hides within The Order, Langdon offered. And the words the and order are capitalized.
The old mans face was expressionless as he positioned the capstone on top of the pyramid and aligned it by sense of touch. He seemed to pause a moment, as if in prayer, and reverently ran his palms over the complete pyramid several times. Then he reached out and located the cube-shaped box, taking it in his hands, feeling it carefully, his fingers probing inside and out.
When he was done, he set down the box and leaned back in his chair. So tell me, he demanded, his voice suddenly stern. Why have you come to me?
The question took Langdon off guard. We came, sir, because you told us to. And Mr. Bellamy said we should trust you.
And yet you did not trust him?
The deans white eyes stared directly through Langdon. The package containing the capstone
was sealed. Mr. Bellamy told you not to open it,
and yet you did. In addition, Peter Solomon himself told you not to open it. And yet you did.
Sir, Katherine intervened, we were trying to help my brother. The man who has him demanded we decipher
I can appreciate that, the dean declared, and yet what have you achieved by opening the package? Nothing. Peters captor is looking for a location, and he will not be satisfied with the answer of Jeova Sanctus Unus.
I agree, Langdon said, but unfortunately thats all the pyramid says. As I mentioned, the map seems to be more figurative than
Youre mistaken, Professor, the dean said. The Masonic Pyramid is a real map. It points to a real location. You do not understand that, because you have not yet deciphered the pyramid
fully. Not even close.
Langdon and Katherine exchanged startled looks.
The dean laid his hands back on the pyramid, almost caressing it. This map, like the Ancient Mysteries themselves, has many layers of meaning. Its true secret remains veiled from you.
Dean Galloway, Langdon said, weve been over every inch of the pyramid and capstone, and theres nothing else to see.
Not in its current state, no. But objects change.
Professor, as you know, the promise of this pyramid is one of miraculous transformative power. Legend holds that this pyramid can change its shape . . . alter its physical form to reveal its secrets. Like the famed stone that released Excalibur into the hands of King Arthur, the Masonic Pyramid can transform itself if it so chooses . . . and reveal its secret to the worthy.
Langdon now sensed that the old mans advanced years had perhaps robbed him of his faculties. Im sorry, sir. Are you saying this pyramid can undergo a literal physical transformation?
Professor, if I were to reach out with my hand and transform this pyramid right before your eyes, would you believe what you had witnessed?
Langdon had no idea how to respond. I suppose I would have no choice.
Very well, then. In a moment, I shall do exactly that. He dabbed his mouth again. Let me remind you that there was an era when even the brightest minds perceived the earth as flat. For if the earth were round, then surely the oceans would spill off. Imagine how they would have mocked you if you proclaimed, Not only is the world a sphere, but there is an invisible, mystical force that holds everything to its surface!
Theres a difference, Langdon said, between the existence of gravity . . . and the ability to transform objects with a touch of your hand.
Is there? Is it not possible that we are still living in the Dark Ages, still mocking the suggestion of mystical forces that we cannot see or comprehend. History, if it has taught us anything at all, has taught us that the strange ideas we deride today will one day be our celebrated truths. I claim I can transform this pyramid with a touch of my finger, and you question my sanity. I would expect more from an historian. History is replete with great minds who have all proclaimed the same thing . . . great minds who have all insisted that man possesses mystical abilities of which he is unaware.
Langdon knew the dean was correct. The famous Hermetic aphorismKnow ye not that ye are gods?was one of the pillars of the Ancient Mysteries. As above, so below . . . Man created in
Gods image . . . Apotheosis. This persistent message of mans own divinityof his hidden potentialwas the recurring theme in the ancient texts of countless traditions. Even the Holy Bible cried out in Psalms 82:6: Ye are gods!
Professor, the old man said, I realize that you, like many educated people, live trapped between worldsone foot in the spiritual, one foot in the physical. Your heart yearns to believe . . . but your intellect refuses to permit it. As an academic, you would be wise to learn from the great minds of history. He paused and cleared his throat. If Im remembering correctly, one of the greatest minds ever to live proclaimed: That which is impenetrable to us really exists. Behind the secrets of nature remains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.
Who said that? Langdon said. Gandhi?
No, Katherine interjected. Albert Einstein.
Katherine Solomon had read every word Einstein had ever written and was struck by his profound respect for the mystical, as well as his predictions that the masses would one day feel the same. The religion of the future, Einstein had predicted, will be a cosmic religion. It will transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology.
Robert Langdon appeared to be struggling with the idea. Katherine could sense his rising frustration with the old Episcopal priest, and she understood. After all, they had traveled here for answers, and they had found instead a blind man who claimed he could transform objects with a touch of his hands. Even so, the old mans overt passion for mystical forces reminded Katherine of her brother.
Father Galloway, Katherine said, Peter is in trouble. The CIA is chasing us. And Warren Bellamy sent us to you for help. I dont know what this pyramid says or where it points, but if deciphering it means that we can help Peter, we need to do that. Mr. Bellamy may have preferred to sacrifice my brothers life to hide this pyramid, but my family has experienced nothing but pain because of it. Whatever secret it may hold, it ends tonight.
You are correct, the old man replied, his tone dire. It will all end tonight. Youve guaranteed that. He sighed. Ms. Solomon, when you broke the seal on that box, you set in motion a series of events from which there will be no return. There are forces at work tonight that you do not yet comprehend. There is no turning back.
Katherine stared dumbfounded at the reverend. There was something apocalyptic about his tone, as if he were referring to the Seven Seals of Revelation or Pandoras box.
Respectfully, sir, Langdon interceded, I cant imagine how a stone pyramid could set in motion anything at all.
Of course you cant, Professor. The old man stared blindly through him. You do not yet have eyes to see.