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18 September 2009 @ 09:22 pm
Chapter 5 - The Cryptex  

Title: The Da Vinci Code
Chapter: The Cryptex
Disclaimer: I do not own The Da Vinci Code or the screenplay. They belong to Dan Brown, Akiva Goldsman, Columbia Pictures, Ron Howard, and everyone else that is not me. Did I get everybody?

 

Chapter 5

As Samara, Langdon, and Sophie walked toward 24 Haxo, Samara noticed that the address did not lead to a church or monastery - it led to a bank. More specifically, the Depository Bank of Zurich, a Swiss based bank. As she walked in silence, Langdon and Sophie were talking. “Follow his clues. Like I am a girl again,” Sophie said. Langdon just shrugs. “Because of your expertise?” the young Frenchwoman suddenly asked.

Langdon turned his head to her and said, “I’m sorry?”

“About the Priory. Do you think that is why Sauniere sought you out? That he wanted us to meet?” Sophie continued.

“Hell, I can name dozens of scholars who know a lot more about it,” he replied. Samara chuckled. Sophie turned to her and asked, “What do you know about the Priory?”

“Most likely as much as Robert. Secret organizations are not my area of expertise. I generally apply religious symbology to history. Mainly, I apply them to myths,” she added.

“And the Grail?” Sophie asked.

Samara sighed. “I stay away from the Grail. There is too much controversy around it,” she answered. She turned her head slightly to look at Robert. Ever since they met, Samara has been intrigued by him. She found him to be of a quiet spirit, always listening to those around him. She snapped out of her reverie when she heard Sophie say, “Mysterious. And annoying. Even in death.”

“Actually, I don’t think he liked me very much,” Langdon said. “He made a joke at my expense. Got a pretty good laugh out of it.”

“What was it?” Sophie asked, but she never got an answer. Langdon proceeded to insert the key into the slot and the door swings open. The trio entered the bank and was greeted by the guard. “Bonsoir. How may I help you?” he said. Langdon holds up the pendant, and the guard says, “Of course. Rear door, please.”

The group made their way to the indicated door and entered into a beautiful room filled with Oriental carpets and oak furniture. Coming into the room was an older gentleman with ginger hair. “Bonsoir. I am Andre Vernet, night manager. I take it this is your first visit to our establishment?” he asked.

The three look at each other, and Sophie replied in English, “Yes.”

Vernet smiled and said, “Understood. Keys are often passed on and first-time users are sometimes uncertain of protocol.”

“Passed on?” Samara asked.

“An inheritance,” he answered. Langdon glanced at Sophie. Vernet continued with, “Keys are essentially numbered Swiss accounts, often willed through generations. The shortest safety deposit box lease is fifty years.”

“What’s your longest account?” Sophie asked.

“Quite a bit longer. Technologies change. Keys are updated. But our accounts date back to the beginning of banking itself,” Vernet answered.

Samara looked at Sophie. “The Templars invented banking,” she explained.

“So they did,” Vernet said. He proceeds to lead them to a podium that was in front of a wide conveyor belt that enters the room. Vernet said, “Once the computer confirms your key, enter your account number and your box is retrieved.” He then pointed out a red switch on the wall. “Should you require assistance. The room is yours as long as you like,” he added.

Sophie looked at Vernet and asked, “What if I lost track of my account number? How might I recover it?”

“I’m afraid each key is paired with a ten-digit number known only to the account bearer,” Vernet explained.

“Employees do not have keys to the safe,” Langdon stated.

Vernet said, “Something like that. I hope you manage to remember it. A single wrong entry disables the system.” And with that, he smiled and left the room.

The trio looked at each other and Sophie said, “Ten.” Langdon nods and pulls out the crumpled page that had the numbers on it. “Ten. Top of the sequence,” he said.

“Unscrambled or scrambled?” Samara asked.

“Unscrambled?” suggested Sophie. Langdon handed her the key. “It’s yours, after all,” he said.

Sophie turned the key in her hand. “Funny. I don’t even like history. I’ve never seen much good come from looking to the past,” she said as she slips it into the slot. She frowns as she types the numbers into the computer.

“Moment of truth,” Langdon said. Samara watched as Sophie hit the ENTER key. The screen goes blank. Everyone held their breath and released those breaths when they saw the conveyor belt begin to move. “I feel quite proud of myself considering I just did nothing,” Sophie said with a grin.

“Hell, congratulations then,” Langdon said. Samara laughed as she watches a box stop in front of them. Sophie opens the box, pulls out something, and hands it to Langdon. Before he could say anything, the door began to open. He slips the object into his pocket. Vernet enters and says, “Forgive the intrusion. I’m afraid the police arrived more quickly than I anticipated. You must follow me, please. For your own safety.” The group followed the bank manager through the side door down the gunmetal hall.

“You knew they were coming?” asked Samara.

“My guard alerted me to your status when you arrived. Yours is one of our oldest and highest-level accounts. Our bank prides itself on discretion. Your account includes a safe passage clause,” Vernet answered.

“A what?” Langdon asked. Samara was equally perplexed.

“I am obliged to assist you in safely departing the premises,” explained Vernet. He opened a door leading to the loading area. Beyond it was a windowless box the size of a very small room. “If you would step inside, please. Time is of the essence,” he said as he gestured for them to get in. Sophie gets in; but Langdon went pale as he looked inside. “In there?” he asked.

Samara looked at him and remembers. Robert’s claustrophobic. She slipped her hand in Robert’s and squeezed it. When Langdon looks at her, she gave him a reassuring smile and gently led him inside. As the bank manager closed the door and darkness descends, Samara felt Langdon start to squeeze her hand. She moved closer to him so that he can hold on to her. Then she waited.


A while later, Samara was impressed on how Vernet got them past the police. She recognized Lieutenant Collet’s voice through the walls. Samara continued to allow Langdon to hold her tight as a way to focus on something else other than the small room. “The Holy Grail? You would think it would be bigger,” Sophie said as a single light bulb turns on. Her companions smile. “A magic cup? The source of God’s power on earth? It’s nonsense,” the young woman continues as Samara noticed that she was holding a small box.

Samara smiled. “You don’t believe in God, I see,” she said.

“No. I don’t believe in some magic from the sky. Just people. And sometimes, that they can be kind,” Sophie said.

“That’s enough?” asked Langdon.

“I think it has to be. I think it’s all we have,” she answered. She looked at the academics. “Are either of you God-fearing?” she asked.

“Yes,” answered Samara.

Langdon answered with, “I was raised Catholic.”

“That’s not really an answer,” said Sophie. She began to notice his sweat-stained face and shaking hands. “Professor, are you okay?” she asked. His only response was tightening his hold on Samara and shaking his head.

“Open it up,” he said instead. Seeing her concerned face, he added, “Go on.”

As she touched the engraved rose and lifted the top. “This one is very old,” she said. To show them what she meant, she lifted a small cylinder from the padded interior. Samara looked in wonderment as she saw stacked marble disks embossed with letters in a brass framework with brass caps sealing each end. “A cryptex,” Sophie answered, seeming to sense their bewilderment, “they’re used to keep secrets. You write the information on a papyrus scroll which is then rolled around a thin vial glass of vinegar.”

“I see where you are going with this. If someone tries to force it open, the vinegar vial would break and dissolve the papyrus, and the secret is lost forever,” said Samara.

Sophie smiled and nodded. “The only way to access the information is to spell out the password with these,” she continued, showing them the lettered dials. “Five dials, each with twenty-six letters. That’s…twelve million possibilities.”

“This is why I don’t do math,” grumbled Samara.

“If I remember right, you flunked the test the math department issued for fun,” whispered Robert. She glared at him in response. Chuckling, he turned to Sophie and said, “I never met a girl who knew that much about a cryptex.”

Sophie flushed unexpectedly. Recovering quickly, she said, “Sauniere made one for me once.”

“My grandpa gave me a wagon,” said Langdon.

“Mine gave me a gun,” countered Samara. Langdon stared at her. “What?! He wanted to take me hunting,” she added defensively.

“This clearly isn’t the Holy Grail. Robert, what’s going on?” demanded Sophie. As the truck hit a bump, Langdon shut his eyes and held Samara tighter, shaking as he did. “Please, you are not alright,” she said, sympathy entering her voice.

Samara sighed and answered, “He’s claustrophobic.”

Understanding, Sophie asked, “May I try something? I don’t know why it works. My mother used to do it when I was scared, I think.” With that, she reached out, taking his temples between her palms and pressed her forehead against his, rocking slightly.

As Samara looked on, Robert retorted, “You think?”

“My parents died in a car crash. With my brother. I was four,” she answered.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” whispered Samara.

“It was many years ago,” she replied as she lets go.

“But pain such as that remains forever,” replied Samara.

Looking at Langdon, Sophie asked, “Better?”

“Yes,” he replied, very surprised. “What did you do?” he asked.

But before she could answer, the truck began to slow down. “We’re stopping,” said Samara as they came to a complete stop.

Langdon had just enough time to slip the cryptex back into its box and into his pocket when the doors swung open. “Sorry about this,” said Vernet as he held a gun at them.

“What are you doing?” demanded Samara, seeing that they were well off the beaten path.

Vernet ignored her as he said, “Bring it to me.”

“I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about,” said Langdon.

Vernet just shook his head. “Twenty years waiting for someone to come for that box and now it’s you three murderers,” he said. Cocking the hammer, he repeated, “Bring it to me.”

“Please listen…” was all Samara got out before he fired a bullet into the wall above Langdon’s head, the spent shell hitting the cargo hold floor.

“Okay! Okay!” cried Langdon.

“Right. Now,” demanded the manager. Langdon reached into his pocket and pulled the box out. As he stepped forward, Vernet ordered, “ Place it near the edge of the door.” Langdon knelt and deposited the box at the edge of the hold. “Stand up,” was the next order. He obliged, secretly clocking the spent pistol shell. “Step away from the box. No one will lose sleep over a trio on a killing spree,” said Vernet.

“A killing spree?” asked Samara as she noticed Langdon discreetly brush the spent shell with his foot into the lower frame of the door’s crafted sill.

“Return to the back wall and turn around. The young mademoiselle also. The older one has to move closer to the door. She is going to ride with me up front,” ordered Vernet. Langdon and Sophie did as they were told as Samara walked towards the man, who pulled her out of the hold. He slammed the door and reached up to slide the exterior latch shut when he realized that the door would not close. He slammed into it to get it closed but instead goes reeling to the ground as the door suddenly crashes into him. Samara watched as Langdon hit the gravel and cut his hand. Samara grabbed the box and ran toward the passenger’s side door with Sophie as Langdon went for the driver’s. He got the truck started and back on the road as they heard bullets hit the truck. But they just kept on going.


As they drove down the road, Sophie stuck her head out for a minute before coming back inside.

“You okay?” asked Samara.

“Always, if I got too nervous, I had to put my head out the window as to not be sick,” she answered. As Langdon tamps the blood from his palm with tissues from the box on the dashboard, she added, “Sauniere used to say I was like a dog. A cute dog. A little dog.” Looking at the box in Samara’s lap, she said, “And somebody murders him. Somebody shoots at us. For this.” Samara responded by handing the box to her. Sophie takes the cryptex out and began to turn the dials.

“What happened between you and your grandfather, Sophie?” asked Langdon. Sophie looked at him with surprise written on her face. “My shoulder hurts. I’ve been shot at. Be straight with me,” he asked. Sophie just shook her head. “You say he raised you, but you two don’t talk anymore. You call him by his last name,” he added. Sophie just ignored him. “You say you hate history. Nobody hates history, they hate their own histories,” he argued.

“Now you are a psychologist, too?” she asked.

A thought came to Samara. “What if Sauniere was starting to groom you?” she asked.

Langdon looked at the redhead as Sophie asked, “What do you mean, groom me?”

“From what I understand, in secret societies, kids are trained from an early age to understand codes and symbols, to keep secrets,” replied Samara.

Realizing where she was going, Langdon continued her thought, “Your grandfather gave you puzzles and cryptexes as a child. Say, Sauniere hopes you will one day join him in the Priory. Whatever interrupted your relationship abrogates that process. But years later, he imagines the Grail is in danger, so he reaches out to you.”

“Now I’m being groomed by Santa Claus? So you’re saying all this is real. The Priory. The Holy Grail?” asked Sophie.

“We have been dragged into a world where people think this stuff is real. Real enough to kill,” said Samara.

“But who?”

Langdon shook his head. “Samara and I are out of our fields here,” he said. “I know a grail historian. Absolutely obsessed with Priory myth.”

Him? You want to ask him for help?” asked Samara.

“Can you think of anyone else?”

“Who?” asked Sophie.

Samara sighed. “An Englishman who lives here in France. At Château Villette,” she answered.

Le Château de la Villette? In Versailles?” asked a surprised young woman.

“Yes, that’s the one,” answered Langdon.

“Ah, nice friends,” she said.

Langdon just shrug as he glanced at the dashboard. “Damn, we’re almost on empty,” he said.

Sophie leaned over to the gas gauge and flicked her finger on it twice. It springs to nearly full. “Not French engineering,” she explained. She looked out into the night. “Do you trust this man? Fache could even be offering a reward,” she asked.

Samara snorted as Langdon said, “One think Leigh doesn’t need is money.”

Sir Leigh. Now, Robert, how many times has he heckled you on that?” questioned Samara.

“Don’t start,” he warned.

“Oh, I think I can,” she replied.

Before he could retort, Sophie asked, “Sir Leigh?”

Samara smiled at her. “We’re on a Grail quest, Sophie. Who better to help us than a knight?” she asked.