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.What must have been the main part of the villa loomed high behind it, and was made of the yellowish stone most common in Rome.As Victoria trudged along, she turned her mind from the chill of her cold, wet gown to something nearly as uncomfortable: how to find Sebastian.In London she had been able to go to his pub, The Silver Chalice, to contact him, but it had been destroyed.The last time she’d seen him was here in Rome, when, with his usual talent, he’d simply shown up when she didn’t necessarily want him to.Short of putting a notice in the newspaper, there was little she could do to find him.But then a thought struck her.Sebastian had introduced her to two young women, twins named Portiera and Placidia.Perhaps if she called on them she might be able to learn how to find Sebastian in this city.Not to mention the fact that her mother would love to see her interested in making social calls.Since Lady Melly had arrived, Victoria had spent the last two nights at home with her aunt and friends, playing whist, catching up on gossip, and generally doing the things she thought she’d left behind when she married and moved from her mother’s home.Even as a marchioness she was expected to have social obligations—but at least they would be under her own terms.“There it is,” Victoria said, gesturing to the wall made of slim gray stones stacked atop one another as she and Ylito passed through the same gate that the vampires had used two nights before.Off to the right was the smooth white lintel framing a solid stone door.“La Porta Alchemica,” said Ylito, stepping toward it.Victoria’s sodden skirt brushed against him as she too moved toward the door.It was not a particularly large one, now that she saw it in full daylight.Just an average size, low enough that someone as tall as Max would have to duck to cross the threshold.She watched as Ylito smoothed his dark hand over the white marble as though reading with his fingertips the symbols carved there.Above the door was a large circle carving, within which were two triangles superimposed on each other, one pointing up and the other pointing down, and a cross stamped on top of them.“Jupiter…tin…diameter sphaerae îhau…circli…non orbis prvsunt…Venus…copper…” murmured Ylito, moving his hand down the right side of the doorway.“What does it say?”“Alchemical symbols—this is for the planet Jupiter,” he said, showing her the top carving that looked like a cross with an arrow pointing to the right, “and represents the metal tin.Below it, the symbol of femininity, or Venus, the circle with the cross below it.There is Mercury and Mars…” he added, gesturing to the other side.“What does it all mean?”Again Ylito flashed his white teeth.“I do not know, and apparently neither did Palombara.As the story goes, he found the papers of an alchemist who came to Rome searching for a mysterious herb.After the alchemist disappeared, Palombara studied his journals and had some of the content engraved on the door.For example, under the Jupiter symbol it says, ‘the sphere’s diameter, the circle’s tau, and the globe’s cross are of no use to the blind.’ It simply means one might have the tools, but if one doesn’t know how to put them to use, they’re worthless.”Victoria, looking at the odd symbols, couldn’t agree more.A large dial was set into the stone of the portal, covering about the center half of the entrance.The round disk, which was flush with its setting, was formed of a different color stone and had the shape of a triangle carved into its face.At each of the three corners was a small rectangular notch, no more than two fingers wide and one thumb-length long.Victoria could see that the dirt and moss had been scraped away from the bottom right-hand notch, as though someone had recently slipped something into the hole.She pushed her fingers in, examining the stone around the opening of what must be one of the keyholes, though it looked nothing like any keyhole she’d ever seen.Which made her realize that the key was perhaps not a long metal one with notches carved on one side, but something different.More of a small tab that would slide into the small opening.“Ylito, look at this.”He crouched next to her with a faint pop in one of his knees and thrust his fingers sideways into the notch.They disappeared up to his second knuckles, and his dark eyes lit up with interest.“The key.One of the keys has been found.” He looked up at her, more animation in his face than she’d seen yet today.Obviously this was a fascination to him.“Si, that slot has the key slid in, unable to be retrieved until the door is opened.It has been fitted into place, and there it will stay.Each key fits in its slot and lifts the insides of the lock, and thus allows the disk to turn.That will open the door.”Victoria nodded, her heart filling her chest.Was the missing key the one that had been given to Augmentin Gardella and then passed down to Aunt Eustacia? How could they know? Had the others been found?Then she noticed that the moss and dirt had been cleaned off just above the notch, and there was a faint carving on it.Ylito was already looking at the etched lettering, his quick, dark hands passing over it as if it would help him to read it.“That is the name of the key.“Deus et homo.God and man [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]