Mal’akh stood naked in the billowing warmth of his steam shower. He felt pure again, having washed off the last
1remaining scent of ethanol. As the eucalyptus-infused vapors permeated his skin, he could feel his pores opening to the
heat. Then he began his ritual.
2First, he rubbed depilatory chemicals across his tattooed body and scalp, removing any traces of body hair. Hairless were the gods of the seven islands of Heliades. Then he massaged Abramelin oil into his softened and receptive flesh. Abramelin is the sacred oil of the great Magi. Then he turned his shower lever hard to the left, and the water turned ice cold. He stood beneath the frigid water for a full minute to close his pores and trap the heat and energy within his core. The cold served as a reminder of the icy river in which this transformation had begun.
When he stepped from the shower, he was shivering, but within seconds, his core heat emanated up through his layers of flesh and warmed him. Mal’akh’s insides felt like a furnace. He stood naked before the mirror and admired his form . . . perhaps the last time he would see himself as a mere mortal.
His feet were the talons of a hawk. His legs—Boaz and Jachin—were the ancient pillars of wisdom. His hips and
abdomen were the archways of mystical power. Hanging beneath the archway, his massive sex organ bore the tattooed symbols of his destiny. In another life, this heavy shaft of flesh had been his source of carnal pleasure. But no longer.
I have been purified.
3Like the mystical eunuch monks of Katharoi, Mal’akh had removed his testicles. He had sacrificed his physical
potency for a more worthy one. Gods have no gender. Having shed the human imperfection of gender along with the
earthly pull of sexual temptation, Mal’akh had become like Ouranos, Attis, Sporus, and the great castrati magicians of
4Arthurian legend. Every spiritual metamorphosis is preceded by a physical one. Such was the lesson of all the great
gods . . . from Osiris, to Tammuz, to Jesus, to Shiva, to the Buddha himself.
I must shed the man who clothes me.
Abruptly, Mal’akh drew his gaze upward, past the double-headed phoenix on his chest, past the collage of ancient
5sigils adorning his face, and directly to the top of his head. He tipped his head toward the mirror, barely able to see the
6circle of bare flesh that waited there. This location on the body was sacred. Known as the fontanel, it was the one area
of the human skull that remained open at birth. An oculus to the brain. Although this physiological portal closes within a
matter of months, it remains a symbolic vestige of the lost connection between the outer and inner worlds.
Mal’akh studied the sacred patch of virginal skin, which was enclosed by the crownlike circle of an ouroboros—a
mystical snake devouring its own tail. The bare flesh seemed to stare back at him . . . bright with promise.
Robert Langdon soon would uncover the great treasure that Mal’akh required. Once Mal’akh possessed it, the void
on top of his head would be filled, and he would at last be prepared for his final transformation.
Mal’akh padded across his bedroom and took from his bottom drawer a long strip of white silk. As he had done many times before, he wrapped it around his groin and buttocks. Then he went downstairs.
In his office, his computer had received an e-mail message. It was from his contact:
WHAT YOU REQUIRE IS NOW WITHIN REACH.
I WILL CONTACT YOU WITHIN THE HOUR. PATIENCE. Mal’akh smiled. It was time to make final
1 vapor /'veip../ n. 雾气, 汽，蒸汽，水蒸汽 water vapor 水蒸汽 ||〈医〉吸入剂 (亦作： vapour； 2 depilatory /di'pil..t..ri/ n. 脱毛剂 >>> adj. 有脱毛能力的 3 testicle /'testikl/ n.〈解〉睾丸 4 metamorphose /met..'mo:fouz/ vt. 使变形[质]; 使变成(to, into) Circe metamorphosed men into swine. 女妖锡西把人变成了猪。
metamorphosis /met..'mo:f..sis/ n. (pl. -ses) 变态, 变形; 变异, 化学变化 A butterfly is produced by metamorphosis from a caterpillar. 5 sigil /'sidZil/ n. 印章, (被认为有神秘意义或力量的)图象, 符咒 6 fontanel /font..'nel/ 囟门：一柔软的膜状口，在胎儿或婴儿的未完全发育好的头颅骨头之间, 也作 soft spot
The CIA field agent was in a foul mood as he descended from the reading-room balcony. Bellamy lied to us. The
agent had seen no heat signatures whatsoever upstairs near the Moses statue, nor anywhere else upstairs for that matter.
So where the hell did Langdon go?
The agent retraced his steps now to the only place they’d spotted any heat signatures at all—the library’s
distribution hub. He descended the stairs again, moving beneath the octagonal console. The noise of the rumbling conveyors was grating. Advancing into the space, he flipped down his thermal goggles and scanned the room. Nothing. He looked toward the stacks, where the mangled door still showed hot from the explosion. Other than that, he saw no—
The agent jumped back as an unexpected luminescence drifted into his field of vision. Like a pair of ghosts, the
7dimly glowing imprints of two humanoids had just emerged from the wall on a conveyor belt. Heat signatures.
Stunned, the agent watched as the two apparitions circled the room on the conveyor loop and then disappeared headfirst into a narrow hole in the wall. They rode the conveyor out? That’s insanity.
In addition to realizing they had just lost Robert Langdon through a hole in the wall, the field agent was now aware that he had another problem. Langdon’s not alone?
8He was just about to switch on his transceiver and call the team leader, but the team leader beat him to it. “All
Solomon. points, we’ve got an abandoned Volvo on the plaza in front of the library. Registered to one Katherine Eyewitness says she entered the library not long ago. We suspect she’s with Robert Langdon.
Director Sato has ordered that we find them both immediately.”
“I’ve got heat signatures for both of them!” shouted the field agent in the distribution room. He explained the
“For Christ’s sake!” the team leader replied. “Where the hell does the conveyor go?”
The field agent was already consulting the employee reference schematic on the bulletin board. “Adams Building,”
he replied. “One block from here.”
“All points. Redirect to the Adams Building! NOW!”
The words echoed in Langdon’s mind as he and Katherine burst through a side door of the Adams Building and out into the cold winter night. The mysterious caller had conveyed his location cryptically, but Langdon had understood.
9Katherine’s reaction to their destination had been surprisingly sanguine: Where better to find One True God?
Now the question was how to get there.
Langdon spun in place, trying to get his bearings. It was dark, but thankfully the weather had cleared. They were
standing in a small courtyard. In the distance, the Capitol Dome looked startlingly far away, and Langdon realized this was the first moment he had stepped outside since arriving at the Capitol several hours ago.
So much for my lecture.
“Robert, look.” Katherine pointed toward the silhouette of the Jefferson Building.
Langdon’s first reaction on seeing the building was astonishment that they had traveled so far underground on a
10conveyor belt. His second reaction, however, was alarm. The Jefferson Building was now abuzz with activity—trucks
7 humanoid /'hju:m..noid/ adj. 似人的, 有人类特点的 >>> n. 类人动物; 猿人 || (科学幻想小说中的)星球人 8 transceiver /tr@n'si:v../ n. 收发设备; 无线电收发(两用)机 9 sanguine /'s@ngwin/ adj. 血红色的; (脸色等)有血色的, 红润的; 多血质的a sanguine complexion 红润的脸色
乐观的; 自信的; 怀有希望的 a ~ nature [disposition] 乐观开朗的性格[天性] be ~ of 自信, 对...抱乐观
n. 血红色, 自信 || (用氧化铁染色的)红粉笔; 赤铁矿 >>> vt. [诗]血染; 染红 10 abuzz /..'b^z/ adv., adj. 嘈杂地(的；，乱哄哄地(的；
and cars pulling in, men shouting. Is that a searchlight?
Langdon grabbed Katherine’s hand. “Come on.”
They ran northeast across the courtyard, quickly disappearing from view behind an elegant U-shaped building, which Langdon realized was the Folger Shakespeare Library. This particular building seemed appropriate camouflage
11for them tonight, as it housed the original Latin manuscript of Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, the utopian vision on
which the American forefathers had allegedly modeled a new world based on ancient knowledge. Even so, Langdon would not be stopping.
We need a cab.
They arrived at the corner of Third Street and East Capitol. The traffic was sparse, and Langdon felt fading hope as he scanned for taxis. He and Katherine hurried northward on Third Street, putting distance between themselves and the Library of Congress. It was not until they had gone an entire block that Langdon finally spotted a cab rounding the
12corner. He flagged it down, and the cab pulled over.
Middle Eastern music played on his radio, and the young Arab driver gave them a friendly smile. “Where to?” the
driver asked as they jumped into the car.
” “We need to go to—
“Northwest!” Katherine interjected, pointing up Third Street away from the Jefferson Building. “Drive toward
Union Station, then left on Massachusetts Avenue. We’ll tell you wh