Font Size:  

"Yes," Langdon said. Marie had drawn the less common" closed" form of the blade, although Langdon had seen the symbol portrayed both ways.

"And the inverse," she said, drawing again on her palm," is the chalice, which represents the feminine."

"Correct," Langdon said.

"And you are saying that in all the hundreds of symbols we have here in Rosslyn Chapel, these two shapes appear nowhere?" "I didn't see them." "And if I show them to you, will you get some sleep?"

Before Langdon could answer, Marie Chauvel had stepped off the porch and was heading toward the chapel. Langdon hurried after her. Entering the ancient building, Marie turned on the lights and pointed to the center of the sanctuary floor. "There you are, Mr. Langdon. The blade and chalice."

Langdon stared at the scuffed stone floor. It was blank. "There's nothing here... ."

Marie sighed and began to walk along the famous path worn into the chapel floor, the same path Langdon had seen the visitors walking earlier this evening. As his eyes adjusted to see the giant symbol, he still felt lost. "But that's the Star of Dav - " Langdon stopped short, mute with amazement as it dawned on him.

The blade and chalice.

Fused as one.

The Star of David... the perfect union of male and female... Solomon's Seal... marking the Holy of Holies, where the male and female deities - Yahweh and Shekinah - were thought to dwell.

Langdon needed a minute to find his words. "The verse does point here to Rosslyn. Completely. Perfectly."

Marie smiled. "Apparently."

The implications chilled him. "So the Holy Grail is in the vault beneath us?"

She laughed. "Only in spirit. One of the Priory's most ancient charges was one day to return the Grail to her homeland of France where she could rest for eternity. For centuries, she was dragged across the countryside to keep her safe. Most undignified. Jacques's charge when he became Grand Master was to restore her honor by returning her to France and building her a resting place fit for a queen."

"And he succeeded?"

Now her face grew serious. "Mr. Langdon, considering what you've done for me tonight, and as curator of the Rosslyn Trust, I can tell you for certain that the Grail is no longer here."

Langdon decided to press. "But the keystone is supposed to point to the place where the Holy Grail is hidden now.Why does it point to Rosslyn?"

"Maybe you're misreading its meaning. Remember, the Grail can be deceptive. As could my late husband."

"But how much clearer could he be?" he asked. "We are standing over an underground vault marked by the blade and chalice, underneath a ceiling of stars, surrounded by the art of Master Masons. Everything speaks of Rosslyn."

"Very well, let me see this mysterious verse." She unrolled the papyrus and read the poem aloud in a deliberate tone.

The Holy Grail 'neath ancient Roslin waits.

The blade and chalice guarding o'er Her gates.

Adorned in masters' loving art, She lies.

She rests at last beneath the starry skies.

When she finished, she was still for several seconds, until a knowing smile crossed her lips. "Aah, Jacques."

Langdon watched her expectantly. "You understand this?"

"As you have witnessed on the chapel floor, Mr. Langdon, there are many ways to see simple things."

Langdon strained to understand. Everything about Jacques Sauniere seemed to have double meanings, and yet Langdon could see no further.

Marie gave a tired yawn. "Mr. Langdon, I will make a confession to you. I have never officially been privy to the present location of the Grail. But, of course, I was married to a person of enormous influence... and my women's intuition is strong." Langdon started to speak but Marie continued. "I am sorry that after all your hard work, you will be leaving Rosslyn without any real answers. And yet, something tells me you will eventually find what you seek. One day it will dawn on you." She smiled. "And when it does, I trust that you, of all people, can keep a secret."

There was a sound of someone arriving in the doorway. "Both of you disappeared," Sophie said, entering.

"I was just leaving," her grandmother replied, walking over to Sophie at the door. "Good night, princess." She kissed Sophie's forehead. "Don't keep Mr. Langdon out too late."

Langdon and Sophie watched her grandmother walk back toward the fieldstone house. When Sophie turned to him, her eyes were awash in deep emotion. "Not exactly the ending I expected."

That makes two of us, he thought. Langdon could see she was overwhelmed. The news she had received tonight had changed everything in her life. "Are you okay? It's a lot to take in."

She smiled quietly. "I have a family. That's where I'm going to start. Who we are and where we came from will take some time."

Langdon remained silent.

"Beyond tonight, will you stay with us?" Sophie asked. "At least for a few days?"

Langdon sighed, wanting nothing more. "You need some time here with your family, Sophie. I'm going back to Paris in the morning."

She looked disappointed but seemed to know it was the right thing to do. Neither of them spoke for a long time. Finally Sophie reached over and, taking his hand, led him out of the chapel. They walked to a small rise on the bluff. From here, the Scottish countryside spread out before them, suffused in a pale moonlight that sifted through the departing clouds. They stood in silence, holding hands, both of them fighting the descending shroud of exhaustion.

The stars were just now appearing, but to the east, a single point of light glowed brighter than any other. Langdon smiled when he saw it. It was Venus. The ancient Goddess shining down with her steady and patient light.

The night was growing cooler, a crisp breeze rolling up from the lowlands. After a while, Langdon looked over at Sophie. Her eyes were closed, her lips relaxed in a contented smile. Langdon could feel his own eyes growing heavy. Reluctantly, he squeezed her hand. "Sophie?"

Slowly, she opened her eyes and turned to him. Her face was beautiful in the moonlight. She gave him a sleepy smile. "Hi."

Langdon felt an unexpected sadness to realize he would be returning to Paris without her. "I maybe gone before you wake up." He paused, a knot growing in his throat. "I'm sorry, I'm not very good at - "

Sophie reached out and placed her soft hand on the side of his face. Then, leaning forward, she kissed him tenderly on the cheek. "When can I see you again?"

Langdon reeled momentarily, lost in her eyes. "When?" He paused, curious if she had any idea how much he had been wondering the same thing. "Well, actually, next month I'm lecturing at a conference in Florence. I'll be there a week without much to do." "Is that an invitation?"

"We'd be living in luxury. They're giving me a room at the Brunelleschi." Sophie smiled playfully. "You presume a lot, Mr. Langdon." He cringed at how it had sounded. "What I meant - "

"I would love nothing more than to meet you in Florence, Robert. But on one condition." Her tone turned serious. "No museums, no churches, no tombs, no art, no relics."

"In Florence? For a week? There's nothing else to do."

Sophie leaned forward and kissed him again, now on the lips. Their bodies came together, softly at first, and then completely. When she pulled away, her eyes were full of promise.

"Right," Langdon managed. "It's a date."

Articles you may like