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The Da Vinci Code (chapter 86)

2006-07-07 18:29

  CHAPTER 86

  Like a ghost, Silas drifted silently behind his target. Sophie Neveu sensed him too late. Before she could turn, Silas pressed the gun barrel into her spine and wrapped a powerful arm across her chest, pulling her back against his hulking body. She yelled in surprise. Teabing and Langdon both turned now, their expressions astonished and fearful.

  “What……?” Teabing choked out. “What did you do to Rémy!”

  “Your only concern,” Silas said calmly, “is that I leave here with the keystone.” This recovery mission, as Rémy had described it, was to be clean and simple: Enter the church, take the keystone, and walk out; no killing, no struggle.

  Holding Sophie firm, Silas dropped his hand from her chest, down to her waist, slipping it inside her deep sweater pockets, searching. He could smell the soft fragrance of her hair through his own alcohol-laced breath. “Where is it?” he whispered. The keystone was in her sweater pocket earlier. So where is it now?

  “It's over here,” Langdon's deep voice resonated from across the room.

  Silas turned to see Langdon holding the black cryptex before him, waving it back and forth like a matador tempting a dumb animal.

  “Set it down,” Silas demanded.

  “Let Sophie and Leigh leave the church,” Langdon replied. “You and I can settle this.”

  Silas pushed Sophie away from him and aimed the gun at Langdon, moving toward him.

  “Not a step closer,” Langdon said. “Not until they leave the building.”

  “You are in no position to make demands.”

  “I disagree.” Langdon raised the cryptex high over his head. “I will not hesitate to smash this on the floor and break the vial inside.”

  Although Silas sneered outwardly at the threat, he felt a flash of fear. This was unexpected. He aimed the gun at Langdon's head and kept his voice as steady as his hand. “You would never break the keystone. You want to find the Grail as much as I do.”

  “You're wrong. You want it much more. You've proven you're willing to kill for it.”

  Forty feet away, peering out from the annex pews near the archway, Rémy Legaludec felt a rising alarm. The maneuver had not gone as planned, and even from here, he could see Silas was uncertain how to handle the situation. At the Teacher's orders, Rémy had forbidden Silas to fire his gun.

  “Let them go,” Langdon again demanded, holding the cryptex high over his head and staring into Silas's gun.

  The monk's red eyes filled with anger and frustration, and Rémy tightened with fear that Silas might actually shoot Langdon while he was holding the cryptex. The cryptex cannot fall!

  The cryptex was to be Rémy's ticket to freedom and wealth. A little over a year ago, he was simply a fifty-five-year-old manservant living within the walls of Chateau Villette, catering to the whims of the insufferable cripple Sir Leigh Teabing. Then he was approached with an extraordinary proposition. Rémy's association with Sir Leigh Teabing-the preeminent Grail historian on earth-was going to bring Rémy everything he had ever dreamed of in life. Since then, every moment he had spent inside Chateau Villette had been leading him to this very instant.

  I am so close, Rémy told himself, gazing into the sanctuary of the Temple Church and the keystone in Robert Langdon's hand. If Langdon dropped it, all would be lost.

  Am I willing to show my face? It was something the Teacher had strictly forbidden. Rémy was the only one who knew the Teacher's identity.

  “Are you certain you want Silas to carry out this task?” Rémy had asked the Teacher less than half

  an hour ago, upon getting orders to steal the keystone. “I myself am capable.”

  The Teacher was resolute. “Silas served us well with the four Priory members. He will recover the keystone. You must remain anonymous. If others see you, they will need to be eliminated, and there has been enough killing already. Do not reveal your face.”

  My face will change, Rémy thought. With what you've promised to pay me, I will become an entirely new man. Surgery could even change his fingerprints, the Teacher had told him. Soon he would be free-another unrecognizable, beautiful face soaking up the sun on the beach. “Understood,” Rémy said. “I will assist Silas from the shadows.”

  “For your own knowledge, Rémy,” the Teacher had told him, “the tomb in question is not in the Temple Church. So have no fear. They are looking in the wrong place.”

  Rémy was stunned. “And you know where the tomb is?”

  “Of course. Later, I will tell you. For the moment, you must act quickly. If the others figure out the true location of the tomb and leave the church before you take the cryptex, we could lose the Grail forever.”

  Rémy didn't give a damn about the Grail, except that the Teacher refused to pay him until it was found. Rémy felt giddy every time he thought of the money he soon would have. One third of twenty million euro. Plenty to disappear forever. Rémy had pictured the beach towns on the C.te d'Azur, where he planned to live out his days basking in the sun and letting others serve him for a change.

  Now, however, here in the Temple Church, with Langdon threatening to break the keystone, Rémy's future was at risk. Unable to bear the thought of coming this close only to lose it all, Rémy made the decision to take bold action. The gun in his hand was a concealable, small-caliber, J-frame Medusa, but it would be plenty deadly at close range.

  Stepping from the shadows, Rémy marched into the circular chamber and aimed the gun directly at Teabing's head. “Old man, I've been waiting a long time to do this.”

  Sir Leigh Teabing's heart practically stalled to see Rémy aiming a gun at him. What is he doing! Teabing recognized the tiny Medusa revolver as his own, the one he kept locked in the limousine glove box for safety.

  “Rémy?” Teabing sputtered in shock. “What is going on?”

  Langdon and Sophie looked equally dumbstruck.

  Rémy circled behind Teabing and rammed the pistol barrel into his back, high and on the left, directly behind his heart.

  Teabing felt his muscles seize with terror. “Rémy, I don't-”

  “I'll make it simple,” Rémy snapped, eyeing Langdon over Teabing's shoulder. “Set down the keystone, or I pull the trigger.”

  Langdon seemed momentarily paralyzed. “The keystone is worthless to you,” he stammered. “You cannot possibly open it.”

  “Arrogant fools,” Rémy sneered. “Have you not noticed that I have been listening tonight as you discussed these poems? Everything I heard, I have shared with others. Others who know more than you. You are not even looking in the right place. The tomb you seek is in another location entirely!”

  Teabing felt panicked. What is he saying!

  “Why do you want the Grail?” Langdon demanded. “To destroy it? Before the End of Days?”

  Rémy called to the monk. “Silas, take the keystone from Mr. Langdon.”

  As the monk advanced, Langdon stepped back, raising the keystone high, looking fully prepared to hurl it at the floor.

  “I would rather break it,” Langdon said, “than see it in the wrong hands.”

  Teabing now felt a wave of horror. He could see his life's work evaporating before his eyes. All his dreams about to be shattered.

  “Robert, no!” Teabing exclaimed. “Don't! That's the Grail you're holding! Rémy would never shoot me. We've known each other for ten-”

  Rémy aimed at the ceiling and fired the Medusa. The blast was enormous for such a small weapon, the gunshot echoing like thunder inside the stone chamber.

  Everyone froze.

  “I am not playing games,” Rémy said. “The next one is in his back. Hand the keystone to Silas.”

  Langdon reluctantly held out the cryptex. Silas stepped forward and took it, his red eyes gleaming with the self-satisfaction of vengeance. Slipping the keystone in the pocket of his robe, Silas backed off, still holding Langdon and Sophie at gunpoint.

  Teabing felt Rémy's arm clamp hard around his neck as the servant began backing out of the building, dragging Teabing with him, the gun still pressed in his back.

  “Let him go,” Langdon demanded.

  “We're taking Mr. Teabing for a drive,” Rémy said, still backing up. “If you call the police, he will die. If you do anything to interfere, he will die. Is that clear?”

  “Take me,” Langdon demanded, his voice cracking with emotion. “Let Leigh go.”

  Rémy laughed. “I don't think so. He and I have such a nice history. Besides, he still might prove useful.”

  Silas was backing up now, keeping Langdon and Sophie at gunpoint as Rémy pulled Leigh toward the exit, his crutches dragging behind him.

  Sophie's voice was unwavering. “Who are you working for?”

  The question brought a smirk to the departing Rémy's face. “You would be surprised, Mademoiselle Neveu.”

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