The Ayn Rand Code, Part 2
(quick summary, the police have run off to deal with the threat of the demonic plot device that is Le Poulet qui n'est pas un Poulet, Richard and Sophie are trying to decode the following message:
15 42 23 8 16 4
Why A Dad Warlord Loll Nutty?
Nor Oil Dance Diva
The Ayn Rand Code : Chapter 2 - "Let us not go to the Louvre, it is a Silly Place"
“Sophie, what is your analysis of the writing?” Richard asked.
“I’ve been thinking about the Numbers, but I can’t see what that ordering symbolises.” Sophie replied. “The only significance I can see is that numbers are the coefficients of the famous Valenzetti equation, which I know Rahl was fascinated with, but they are out of order and I can’t see the relevance to the murder case.”
“Out of order,” Richard muttered to himself as he stared at the writing, his brain working furiously.
Breaker of Codes.
Suddenly enlightenment dawned. “The numbers aren’t significant, but the fact that they’re out of order is, he’s trying to tell us it is an anagram, in fact if you rearrange the letters they take on a whole new meaning – ‘What Would Randyll Tarly Do? Leonardo Da Vinci’. Obviously it is a reference to the famous painting by Da Vinci of Randyll Tarly, which I believe is in this very gallery.”
“Yes, it is over there,” Sophie pointed to the far side of the gallery.
They walked over towards it, on the way Sophie looked around to check they were still alone then leaned towards Richard. “There is something you need to know, Reno didn’t tell you everything; there was originally a fourth line of text that they erased before you arrived.”
“What did it say?” Richard asked.
“My star, find Robert Landgon.” Sophie said. “Reno jumped to the conclusion that Jacques Rahl was naming you as the murderer, he just ignored the first bit of the text, but I know what he meant was that you could help me find his murderer. Reno invited you here hoping you’d incriminate yourself, but I don’t think you are the sort of the man who would be capable of violence.”
Richard reflected that Sophie obviously didn’t know him very well. “But why do you say it was a message to you?” he asked.
Sophie looked sad, “Jacques Rahl was my grandfather, he raised me after my parents and brother died, we had been estranged for many years and no-one in the police knew that. He used to refer to me as his ‘little star’, I think the ‘my star’ was a reference to me; he must have known I would be told about the writing because the numbers would be sent to the cryptography department to decode. When I saw the Numbers I knew it was a message to me, he was always fascinated with the implications of those numbers, he even won the lottery using them once, although he claimed the win always gave him bad luck.”
Richard thought about the message as they arrived at Da Vinci’s picture. He said, “I think the ‘My star’ may mean more than just being a reference to you. I think Jacques Rahl may have been referring to the ‘Priory of Mystar’.”
“The Priory of Mystar? What is that?” Sophie asked.
“The Priory of Mystar is an ancient organisation founded millennia ago to protect one of humanity’s biggest secrets. Leonardo Da Vinci was once grandmaster of the Priory, he was a great believer in its purpose and included references to it in many of his works, included ‘What Would Randyll Tarly Do?’ Look here,” Richard pointed at an animal in the background of the painting.
“A goat!” Sophie exclaimed. “But what does that symbolise?”
“The goat is an ancient symbol of nobility, and was used as the unofficial logo of the Priory. Of course, there is also a much bigger connection in this picture, since Randyll Tarly is intimately connected to the secret the Priory protects, as is this woman,” Richard pointed at the woman standing next to Randyll Tarly, gazing at him adoringly.
“Who is she,” Sophie asked, “I’ve always wondered who she was and why she was in the picture?”
This was the sort of question Richard loved. It gave him a perfect opportunity to reveal some little-known symbolism in a long-winded explanation.
Explainer of Things.
“That’s Mary Magdalene,” Richard said, “if you look at her portrayal in the painting of “The Last Supper” and then look here, you’ll see she is the same woman in both. Leonardo is trying to let us in on the secret, that Randyll Tarly and Mary Magdalene were married.”
Sophie argued, “But, Mary Magdalene isn’t in the…”
Richard interrupted, “Long story, you should read my long-winded book on the subject, or if we happen to run into an English academic while we’re on the run we can get him to explain it to you. Anyway, the revelation that they were married is just a hint at the real secret – that Randyll Tarly and Mary Magdalene were both disciples of Jesus and were his choice to lead the Church and guide it in its true role as a bastion of Objectivism. Of course, you’ll never have heard any of this - the other disciples lacked the moral clarity to see the truth of objectivism and seized control of the Church. There was a struggle between the different factions for the next couple of centuries, initially the Objectivists were winning, they had Randyll Tarly on their side after all, but after he died of old age in 184AD they were defeated by the forces of moral cowardice. At the Council of Westeros in 325AD convened by the Emperor Erzuile to decide the future direction of the Church the Bishops Werthead of Camulodunum and Mindonner of Sandstorm succeeded in removing all mentions of Objectivism from the Bible, against the objections of the popular preacher Mystar the Great. After that Mystar found the Priory that bears his name, ever since then there have been a small number of people dedicated to preserving the memory of Randyll Tarly and Mary Magdalene and their beliefs. Leonardo Da Vinci was a big admirer of Randyll Tarly, he is known to have remarked in a letter to a contemporary that Tarly was “harsh but fair”
“Wow”, said Sophie, “that was a long explanation, isn’t this story meant to be a thriller? Less talking, more car chases?”
“This isn't just a cheap thriller,” Richard said, “This is a story about the triumph of human nobility which means the author can put in huge slabs of exposition if he wants. Anyway, as soon as we’ve decoded the message Jacqeus Rahl left us by this picture, we can probably have a car chase which completely ignores the real geography of Paris. That should liven things up a bit, and it will look good in the inevitable but disappointing film adaptation.”
They started to study the picture intently.
(to be continued (maybe)...)