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Tonight, however, the great cathedral was deserted.
Reverend Colin Galloway — dean of the cathedral — looked 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 nave’s 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 screen — the 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
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 dean’s 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 dean’s 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 night’s events from Warren Bellamy’s 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 Peter’s life?”
“Yes,” Langdon said. “He thinks it’s 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 doesn’t matter what I believe. We need to help Peter. Unfortunately, when we deciphered the pyramid, it pointed nowhere.”
The old man sat straighter. “You’ve deciphered the pyramid?”
Katherine interceded now, quickly explaining that despite Bellamy’s warnings and her brother’s 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 Dürer’s magic square, and how it decrypted the sixteen-letter Masonic cipher into the phrase Jeova Sanctus Unus.
“That’s 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 man’s 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 man’s waiting hands. The dean performed a similar examination, feeling every inch, pausing on the capstone’s 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 man’s 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 dean’s 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. Peter’s 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 that’s all the pyramid says. As I mentioned, the map seems to be more figurative than —”
“You’re 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, “we’ve been over every inch of the pyramid and capstone, and there’s 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 man’s advanced years had perhaps robbed him of his faculties. “I’m 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’!”
“There’s 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 aphorism — Know ye not that ye are gods? — was one of the pillars of the Ancient Mysteries. As above, so below… Man created in God’s image… Apotheosis. This persistent message of man’s own divinity — of his hidden potential — was 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 worlds — one 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 I’m 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 man’s 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 don’t 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 brother’s 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. You’ve 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 Pandora’s box.
“Respectfully, sir,” Langdon interceded, “I can’t imagine how a stone pyramid could set in motion anything at all.”
“Of course you can’t, Professor.” The old man stared blindly through him. “You do not yet have eyes to see.”
In the moist air of the Jungle, the Architect of the Capitol could feel the sweat now rolling down his back. His handcuffed wrists ached, but all of his attention remained riveted on the ominous titanium briefcase that Sato had just opened on the bench between them.
The contents of this case, Sato had told him, will persuade you to see things my way. I guarantee it.
The tiny Asian woman had unclasped the metal case away from Bellamy’s line of sight, and he had yet to see its contents, but his imagination was running wild. Sato’s hands were doing something inside the case, and Bellamy half expected her to extract a series of glistening, razor-sharp tools.
Suddenly a light source flickered inside the case, growing brighter, illuminating Sato’s face from beneath. Her hands kept moving inside, and the light changed hue. After a few moments, she removed her hands, grasped the entire case, and turned it toward Bellamy so he could see inside.
Bellamy found himself squinting into the glow of what appeared to be some kind of futuristic laptop with a handheld phone receiver, two antennae, and a double keyboard. His initial surge of relief turned quickly to confusion.
The screen bore the CIA logo and the text:
USER: INOUE SATO
SECURITY CLEARANCE: LEVEL 5
Beneath the laptop’s log-in window, a progress icon was spinning:
ONE MOMENT PLEASE… DECRYPTING FILE…
Bellamy’s gaze shot back up to Sato, whose eyes were locked on his. “I had not wanted to show you this,” she said. “But you’ve left me no choice.”
The screen flickered again, and Bellamy glanced back down as the file opened, its contents filling the entire LCD.
For several moments, Bellamy stared at the screen, trying to make sense of what he was looking at. Gradually, as it began to dawn on him, he felt the blood draining from his face. He stared in horror, unable to look away. “But this is… impossible!” he exclaimed. “How… could this be!”
Sato’s face was grim. “You tell me, Mr. Bellamy. You tell me.”
As the Architect of the Capitol began to fully comprehend the ramifications of what he was seeing, he could feel his entire world teetering precariously on the brink of disaster.
My God… I’ve made a terrible, terrible mistake!
Dean Galloway felt alive.
Like all mortals, he knew the time was coming when he would shed his mortal shell, but tonight was not the night. His corporeal heart was beating strong and fast… and his mind felt sharp. There is work to be done.
As he ran his arthritic hands across the pyramid’s smooth surfaces, he could scarcely believe what he was feeling. I never imagined I would live to witness this moment. For generations, the pieces of the symbolon map had been kept safely apart from one another. Now they were united at last. Galloway wondered if this was the foretold time.
Strangely, fate had selected two non-Masons to assemble the pyramid. Somehow, this seemed fitting. The Mysteries are moving out of the inner circles… out of darkness… into the light.
“Professor,” he said, turning his head in the direction of Langdon’s breathing. “Did Peter tell you why he wanted you to watch over the little package?”
“He said powerful people wanted to steal it from him,” Langdon replied.
The dean nodded. “Yes, Peter told me the same thing.”
“He did?” Katherine said suddenly on his left. “You and my brother spoke about this pyramid?”
“Of course,” Galloway said. “Your brother and I have spoken on many things. I was once the Worshipful Master at the House of the Temple, and he comes to me for guidance at times. It was about a year ago that he came to me, deeply troubled. He sat exactly where you are now, and he asked me if I believed in supernatural premonitions.”
“Premonitions?” Katherine sounded concerned. “You mean like… visions?”
“Not exactly. It was more visceral. Peter said he was feeling the growing presence of a dark force in his life. He sensed something was watching him… waiting… intending to do him great harm.”
“Obviously he was right,” Katherine said, “considering that the same man who killed our mother and Peter’s son had come to Washington and become one of Peter’s own Masonic brothers.”
“True,” Langdon said, “but it doesn’t explain the involvement of the CIA.”
Galloway was not so sure. “Men in power are always interested in greater power.”
“But… the CIA?” Langdon challenged. “And mystical secrets? Something doesn’t add up.”
“Sure it does,” Katherine said. “The CIA thrives on technological advancement and has always experimented with the mystical sciences — ESP, remote viewing, sensory deprivation, pharmacologically induced highly mentalized states. It’s all the same thing — tapping the unseen potential of the human mind. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Peter, it’s this: Science and mysticism are very closely related, distinguishable only by their approaches. They have identical goals… but different methods.”
“Peter tells me,” Galloway said, “that your field of study is a kind of modern mystical science?”
“Noetics,” Katherine said, nodding. “And it’s proving man has powers unlike anything we can imagine.” She motioned to a stained-glass window depicting the familiar image of the “Luminous Jesus,” that of Christ with rays of light flowing from his head and hands. “In fact, I just used a supercooled charge-coupled device to photograph the hands of a faith healer at work. The photos looked a lot like the image of Jesus in your stained-glass window… streams of energy pouring through the healer’s fingertips.”
The well-trained mind, Galloway thought, hiding a smile. How do you think Jesus healed the sick?
“I realize,” Katherine said, “that modern medicine ridicules healers and shamans, but I saw this with my own eyes. My CCD cameras clearly photographed this man transmitting a massive energy field from his fingertips… and literally changing the cellular makeup of his patient. If that’s not godlike power, then I don’t know what is.”
Dean Galloway let himself smile. Katherine had the same fiery passion as her brother. “Peter once compared Noetic Scientists to the early explorers who were mocked for embracing the heretical notion of a spherical earth. Almost overnight, these explorers went from fools to heroes, discovering uncharted worlds and expanding the horizons of everyone on the planet. Peter thinks you will do this as well. He has very high hopes for your work. After all, every great philosophical shift in history began with a single bold idea.”
Galloway knew, of course, that one needn’t go to a lab to witness proof of this bold new idea, this proposal of man’s untapped potential. This very cathedral held healing prayer circles for the sick, and repeatedly had witnessed truly miraculous results, medically documented physical transformations. The question was not whether God had imbued man with great powers… but rather how we liberate those powers.
The old dean placed his hands reverently around the sides of the Masonic Pyramid and spoke very quietly. “My friends, I do not know exactly where this pyramid points… but I do know this. There is a great spiritual treasure buried out there somewhere… a treasure that has waited patiently in darkness for generations. I believe it is a catalyst that has the power to transform this world.” He now touched the golden tip of the capstone. “And now that this pyramid is assembled… the time is fast approaching. And why shouldn’t it? The promise of a great transformational enlightenment has been prophesied forever.”
“Father,” Langdon said, his tone challenging, “we’re all familiar with the Revelation of Saint John and the literal meaning of the Apocalypse, but biblical prophecy hardly seems —”
“Oh, heavens, the Book of Revelation is a mess!” the dean said. “Nobody knows how to read that. I’m talking about clear minds writing in clear language — the predictions of Saint Augustine, Sir Francis Bacon, Newton, Einstein, the list goes on and on, all anticipating a transformative moment of enlightenment. Even Jesus himself said, ‘Nothing is hidden that will not be made known, nor secret that will not come to light.’”
“It’s a safe prediction to make,” Langdon said. “Knowledge grows exponentially. The more we know, the greater our ability to learn, and the faster we expand our knowledge base.”
“Yes,” Katherine added. “We see this in science all the time. Each new technology we invent becomes a tool with which to invent new technologies… and it snowballs. That’s why science has advanced more in the last five years than in the previous five thousand. Exponential growth. Mathematically, as time passes, the exponential curve of progress becomes almost vertical, and new development occurs incredibly fast.”
Silence fell in the dean’s office, and Galloway sensed that his two guests still had no idea how this pyramid could possibly help them reveal anything further. That is why fate brought you to me, he thought. I have a role to play.
For many years, the Reverend Colin Galloway, along with his Masonic brothers, had played the role of gatekeeper. Now it was all changing.
I am no longer a gatekeeper… I am a guide.
“Professor Langdon?” Galloway said, reaching out across his desk. “Take my