Sir Leigh Teabing felt rueful as he gazed out over the barrel of his Medusa revolver at Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu. "My friends," he said," since the moment you walked into my home last night, I have done everything in my power to keep you out of harm's way. But your persistence has now put me in a difficult position."
He could see the expressions of shock and betrayal on Sophie's and Langdon's faces, and yet he was confident that soon they would both understand the chain of events that had guided the three of them to this unlikely crossroads.
There is so much I have to tell you both... so much you do not yet understand.
"Please believe," Teabing said, "I never had any intention of your being involved. You came to my home. You came searching for me."
"Leigh?" Langdon finally managed. "What the hell are you doing? We thought you were in trouble. We came here to help you!"
"As I trusted you would," he said. "We have much to discuss."
Langdon and Sophie seemed unable to tear their stunned gazes from the revolver aimed at them.
"It is simply to ensure your full attention," Teabing said. "If I had wanted to harm you, you would be dead by now. When you walked into my home last night, I risked everything to spare your lives. I am a man of honor, and I vowed in my deepest conscience only to sacrifice those who had betrayed the Sangreal."
"What are you talking about?" Langdon said. "Betrayed the Sangreal?"
"I discovered a terrible truth," Teabing said, sighing. "I learned why the Sangreal documents were never revealed to the world. I learned that the Priory had decided not to release the truth after all. That's why the millennium passed without any revelation, why nothing happened as we entered the End of Days."
Langdon drew a breath, about to protest.
"The Priory," Teabing continued, "was given a sacred charge to share the truth. To release the Sangreal documents when the End of Days arrived. For centuries, men like Da Vinci, Botticelli, and Newton risked everything to protect the documents and carry out that charge. And now, at the ultimate moment of truth, Jacques Sauniere changed his mind. The man honored with the greatest responsibility in Christian history eschewed his duty. He decided the time was not right." Teabing turned to Sophie. "He failed the Grail. He failed the Priory. And he failed the memory of all the generations that had worked to make that moment possible."
"You?" Sophie declared, glancing up now, her green eyes boring into him with rage and realization. "You are the one responsible for my grandfather's murder?"
Teabing scoffed. "Your grandfather and his senechaux were traitors to the Grail." Sophie felt a fury rising from deep within. He's lying!Teabing's voice was relentless. "Your grandfather sold out to the Church. It is obvious they pressured him to keep the truth quiet."
Sophie shook her head. "The Church had no influence on my grandfather!"
Teabing laughed coldly. "My dear, the Church has two thousand years of experience pressuring those who threaten to unveil its lies. Since the days of Constantine, the Church has successfully hidden the truth about Mary Magdalene and Jesus. We should not be surprised that now, once again, they have found a way to keep the world in the dark. The Church may no longer employ crusaders to slaughter non-believers, but their influence is no less persuasive. No less insidious." He paused, as if to punctuate his next point. "Miss Neveu, for some time now your grandfather has wanted to tell you the truth about your family."
Sophie was stunned. "How could you know that?"
"My methods are immaterial. The important thing for you to grasp right now is this." He took a deep breath. "The deaths of your mother, father, grandmother, and brother were not accidental."
The words sent Sophie's emotions reeling. She opened her mouth to speak but was unable. Langdon shook his head. "What are you saying?"
"Robert, it explains everything. All the pieces fit. History repeats itself. The Church has a precedent of murder when it comes to silencing the Sangreal. With the End of Days imminent, killing the Grand Master's loved ones sent a very clear message. Be quiet, or you and Sophie are next."
"It was a car accident," Sophie stammered, feeling the childhood pain welling inside her. "An accident!"
"Bedtime stories to protect your innocence," Teabing said. "Consider that only two family members went untouched - the Priory's Grand Master and his lone granddaughter - the perfect pair to provide the Church with control over the brotherhood. I can only imagine the terror the Church wielded over your grandfather these past years, threatening to kill you if he dared release the Sangreal secret, threatening to finish the job they started unless Sauniere influenced the Priory to reconsider its ancient vow."
"Leigh," Langdon argued, now visibly riled, "certainly you have no proof that the Church had anything to do with those deaths, or that it influenced the Priory's decision to remain silent."
"Proof?" Teabing fired back. "You want proof the Priory was influenced? The new millennium has arrived, and yet the world remains ignorant! Is that not proof enough?"
In the echoes of Teabing's words, Sophie heard another voice speaking. Sophie, I must tell you the truth about your family.She realized she was trembling. Could this possibly be that truth her grandfather had wanted to tell her? That her family had been murdered? What did she truly know about the crash that took her family? Only sketchy details. Even the stories in the newspaper had been vague. An accident? Bedtime stories? Sophie flashed suddenly on her grandfather's over protectiveness, how he never liked to leave her alone when she was young. Even when Sophie was grown and away at university, she had the sense her grandfather was watching over. She wondered if there had been Priory members in the shadows throughout her entire life, looking after her.
"You suspected he was being manipulated," Langdon said, glaring with disbelief at Teabing. "So you murdered him?"
"I did not pull the trigger," Teabing said. "Sauniere was dead years ago, when the Church stole his family from him. He was compromised. Now he is free of that pain, released from the shame caused by his inability to carry out his sacred duty. Consider the alternative. Something had to be done. Shall the world be ignorant forever? Shall the Church be allowed to cement its lies into our history books for all eternity? Shall the Church be permitted to influence indefinitely with murder and extortion? No, something needed to be done! And now we are poised to carry out Sauniere's legacy and right a terrible wrong." He paused. "The three of us. Together."
Sophie felt only incredulity. "How could you possibly believe that we would help you?"