Vitamins, Supplements, Sport Nutrition

CHAPTER 91

Inside Cathedral College, Langdon and Katherine bounded up the basement stairs and hurried down a darkened hallway looking for a front exit. No longer did they hear the sounds of helicopter blades overhead, and Langdon felt hopeful they could slip out unseen and find their way up to Kalorama Heights to see Peter.

They found him. He’s alive.

Thirty seconds earlier, when they’d hung up with the female security guard, Katherine had hurriedly hoisted the steaming pyramid and capstone out of the water. The pyramid was still dripping when she lowered it into Langdon’s leather bag. Now he could feel the heat radiating through the leather.

Excitement over Peter’s discovery had temporarily trumped any further reflection on the capstone’s glowing message—Eight Franklin Square— but there would be time for that once they got to Peter.

As they rounded the corner at the top of the stairs, Katherine stopped short and pointed into a sitting room across the hall. Through the bay window, Langdon could see a sleek black helicopter sitting silent on the lawn. A lone pilot stood beside it, facing away from them and talking on his radio. There was also a black Escalade with tinted windows parked nearby.

Staying in the shadows, Langdon and Katherine moved into the sitting room, and peered out the window to see if they could see the rest of the field team. Thankfully, the huge lawn outside the National Cathedral was empty.

“They must be inside the cathedral,” Langdon said.

“They’re not,” a deep voice said behind them.

Langdon and Katherine wheeled around to see who had spoken. In the doorway of the sitting room, two black-clad figures aimed laser-sighted rifles at them. Langdon could see a glowing red dot dancing on his chest.

“Nice to see you again, Professor,” said a familiar raspy voice. The agents parted, and the tiny form of Director Sato sliced effortlessly through, crossing the sitting room and stopping directly in front of Langdon. “You’ve made some exceedingly poor choices tonight.”

“The police found Peter Solomon,” Langdon declared forcefully. “He’s in bad shape, but he’ll live. It’s over.”

If Sato was surprised Peter had been found, she did not show it. Her eyes were unflinching as she walked to Langdon and stopped only inches away. “Professor, I can assure you, this is nowhere near over. And if the police are now involved, it has only become more serious. As I told you earlier this evening, this is an extremely delicate situation. You never should have run away with that pyramid.”

“Ma’am,” Katherine blurted, “I need to see my brother. You can have the pyramid, but you must let—”

“I must?” Sato demanded, spinning to Katherine. “Ms. Solomon, I assume?” She stared at Katherine with fire in her eyes and then turned back to Langdon. “Put the leather bag on the table.”

Langdon glanced down at the pair of laser sights on his chest. He set the leather bag on the coffee table. An agent approached cautiously, unzipped the bag, and pulled the two sides apart. A little puff of trapped steam billowed up out of the bag. He aimed his light inside, stared for a long, puzzled moment, and then nodded to Sato.

Sato walked over and peered into the bag. The wet pyramid and capstone glistened in the beam of the flashlight. Sato crouched down, looking very closely at the golden capstone, which Langdon realized she had only seen in X-ray.

“The inscription,” Sato demanded. “Does it mean anything to you? ‘The secret hides within The Order’?”

“We’re not sure, ma’am.”

“Why is the pyramid steaming hot?”

“We submerged it in boiling water,” Katherine said without hesitation. “It was part of the process of deciphering the code. We’ll tell you everything, but please let us go see my brother. He’s been through—”

“You boiled the pyramid?” Sato demanded.

“Turn off the flashlight,” Katherine said. “Look at the capstone. You can probably still see.”

The agent flicked off his light, and Sato knelt down before the capstone. Even from where Langdon was standing, he could see that the text on the capstone was still glowing slightly.

“Eight Franklin Square?” Sato said, sounding amazed.

“Yes, ma’am. That text was written with an incandescent lacquer or something. The thirty-third degree was actually—”

“And the address?” Sato demanded. “Is this what this guy wants?”

“Yes,” Langdon said. “He believes the pyramid is a map that will tell him the location of a great treasure—the key to unlocking the Ancient Mysteries.”

Sato looked again at the capstone, her expression one of disbelief. “Tell me,” she said, fear creeping into her voice, “have you contacted this man yet? Have you already given him this address?”

“We tried.” Langdon explained what had happened when they called the man’s cell phone.

Sato listened, running her tongue over her yellow teeth as he spoke. Despite looking ready to erupt with anger over the situation, she turned to one of her agents and spoke in a restrained whisper. “Send him in. He’s in the SUV.”

The agent nodded and spoke into his transceiver.

“Send who in?” Langdon said.

“The only person who has any hope of fixing the goddamn mess you made!”

“What mess?” Langdon fired back. “Now that Peter is safe, everything is—”

“For Christ’s sake!” Sato exploded. “This is not about Peter! I tried to tell you that at the Capitol Building, Professor, but you chose to work against me rather than with me! Now you’ve made an ungodly mess! When you destroyed your cell phone, which, by the way, we were tracking, you cut off your communication with this man. And this address you uncovered—whatever the hell it is—this address was our one chance to catch this lunatic. I needed you to play his game, to provide him with this address so we would know where the hell to catch him!”

Before Langdon could reply, Sato directed the remainder of her wrath at Katherine.

“And you, Ms. Solomon! You knew where this maniac lived? Why didn’t you tell me? You sent a rent-a-cop to this man’s house? Don’t you see you’ve ruined any chance we had of catching him there? I’m glad your brother is safe, but let me tell you this, we are facing a crisis tonight whose ramifications far outreach your family. They will be felt all around the world. The man who took your brother has enormous power, and we need to catch him immediately.”

As she finished her tirade, the tall, elegant silhouette of Warren Bellamy emerged from the shadows and stepped into the sitting room. He looked rumpled, bruised, and shaken . . . like he’d been through hell.

“Warren!” Langdon stood up. “Are you okay?”

“No,” he replied. “Not really.”

“Did you hear? Peter is safe!”

Bellamy nodded, looking dazed, as if nothing mattered anymore. “Yes, I just heard your conversation. I’m glad.”

“Warren, what the hell is going on?”

Sato intervened. “You boys can catch up in a minute. Right now, Mr. Bellamy is going to reach out to this lunatic and communicate with him. Just like he’s been doing all night.”

Langdon felt lost. “Bellamy hasn’t been communicating with this guy tonight! This guy doesn’t even know Bellamy is involved!”

Sato turned to Bellamy and raised her eyebrows.

Bellamy sighed. “Robert, I’m afraid I haven’t been entirely honest with you this evening.” Langdon could only stare. “I thought I was doing the right thing . . .” Bellamy said, looking frightened.

“Well,” Sato said, “now you will do the right thing . . . and we’d all better pray to God it works.” As if to substantiate Sato’s portentous tone, the mantel clock began chiming the hour. Sato took out a Ziploc bag of items and tossed it to Bellamy. “Here’s your stuff. Does your cell phone take photos?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Good. Hold up the capstone.”

The message Mal’akh had just received was from his contact—Warren Bellamy—the Mason he had sent to the Capitol Building earlier tonight to assist Robert Langdon. Bellamy, like Langdon, wanted Peter Solomon back alive and had assured Mal’akh he would help Langdon acquire and decipher the pyramid. All night, Mal’akh had been receiving e-mail updates, which had been automatically forwarded to his cell phone.

This should be interesting, Mal’akh thought, opening the message.

From: Warren Bellamy

got separated from langdon

but finally have info you

demanded. proof attached.

call for missing piece. —wb

—one attachment (jpeg)—

Call for missing piece? Mal’akh wondered, opening the attachment.

The attachment was a photo.

When Mal’akh saw it, he gasped out loud, and he could feel his heart start pounding with excitement. He was looking at a close-up of a tiny golden pyramid. The legendary capstone! The ornate engraving on the face carried a promising message: The secret hides within The Order.

Beneath the inscription, Mal’akh now saw something that stunned him. The capstone seemed to be glowing. In disbelief, he stared at the faintly radiant text and realized that the legend was literally true: The Masonic Pyramid transforms itself to reveal its secret to the worthy.

How this magical transformation had occurred, Mal’akh had no idea, and he didn’t care. The glowing text was clearly pointing to a specific location in D.C., exactly as prophesied. Franklin Square. Unfortunately, the photo of the capstone also included Warren Bellamy’s index finger, which was strategically positioned on the capstone to block out a critical piece of information.

The

secret hides

within The Order ^â– Franklin Square

Call for missing piece. Mal’akh now understood Bellamy’s meaning.

The Architect of the Capitol had been cooperative all night, but now he had chosen to play a very dangerous game.