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hand if you will.”
Robert Langdon felt uncertain as he stared across at Dean Galloway’s outstretched palm.
Are we going to pray?
Politely, Langdon reached out and placed his right hand in the dean’s withered hand. The old man grasped it firmly but did not begin to pray. Instead, he found Langdon’s index finger and guided it downward into the stone box that had once housed the golden capstone.
“Your eyes have blinded you,” the dean said. “If you saw with your fingertips as I do, you would realize this box has something left to teach you.”
Dutifully, Langdon worked his fingertip around the inside of the box, but he felt nothing. The inside was perfectly smooth.
“Keep looking,” Galloway prompted.
Finally, Langdon’s fingertip felt something — a tiny raised circle — a minuscule dot in the center of the base of the box. He removed his hand and peered inside. The little circle was virtually invisible to the naked eye. What is that?
“Do you recognize that symbol?” Galloway asked.
“Symbol?” Langdon replied. “I can barely see anything at all.”
“Push down on it.”
Langdon did as he asked, pressing his fingertip down onto the spot. What does he think will happen?
“Hold your finger down,” the dean said. “Apply pressure.”
Langdon glanced over at Katherine, who looked puzzled as she tucked a wisp of hair behind her ears.
A few seconds later, the old dean finally nodded. “Okay, remove your hand. The alchemy is complete.”
Alchemy? Robert Langdon removed his hand from the stone box and sat in bewildered silence. Nothing had changed at all. The box just sat there on the desk.
“Nothing,” Langdon said.
“Look at your fingertip,” the dean replied. “You should see a transformation.”
Langdon looked at his finger, but the only transformation he could see was that he now had an indentation on his skin made by the circular nubbin — a tiny circle with a dot in the middle.
“Now do you recognize this symbol?” the dean asked.
Although Langdon recognized the symbol, he was more impressed that the dean had been able to feel the detail of it. Seeing with one’s fingertips was apparently a learned skill.
“It’s alchemical,” Katherine said, sliding her chair closer and examining Langdon’s finger. “It’s the ancient symbol for gold.”
“Indeed it is.” The dean smiled and patted the box. “Professor, congratulations. You have just achieved what every alchemist in history has strived for. From a worthless substance, you’ve created gold.”
Langdon frowned, unimpressed. The little parlor trick seemed to be no help at all. “An interesting idea, sir, but I’m afraid this symbol — a circle with a round dot in the middle — has dozens of meanings. It’s called a circumpunct, and it’s one of the most widely used symbols in history.”
“What are you talking about?” the dean asked, sounding skeptical.
Langdon was stunned that a Mason was not more familiar with the spiritual importance of this symbol. “Sir, the circumpunct has countless meanings. In ancient Egypt, it was the symbol for Ra — the sun god — and modern astronomy still uses it as the solar symbol. In Eastern philosophy, it represents the spiritual insight of the Third Eye, the divine rose, and the sign of illumination. The Kabbalists use it to symbolize the Kether — the highest Sephiroth and ‘the most hidden of all hidden things.’ Early mystics called it the Eye of God and it’s the origin of the All-Seeing Eye on the Great Seal. The Pythagoreans used the circumpunct as the symbol of the Monad — the Divine Truth, the Prisca Sapientia, the at-one-ment of mind and soul, and the —”
“Enough!” Dean Galloway was chuckling now. “Professor, thank you. You are correct, of course.”
Langdon now realized he had just been played. He knew all that.
“The circumpunct,” Galloway said, still smiling to himself, “is essentially the symbol of the Ancient Mysteries. For this reason, I would suggest that its presence in this box is not mere coincidence. Legend holds that the secrets of this map are hidden in the smallest of details.”
“Fine,” Katherine said, “but even if this symbol was inscribed there intentionally, it doesn’t bring us any closer to deciphering the map, does it?”
“You mentioned earlier that the wax seal you broke was embossed with Peter’s ring?”
“And you said you have that ring with you?”
“I do.” Langdon reached into his pocket, found the ring, took it out of the plastic bag, and placed it on the desk in front of the dean.
Galloway picked up the ring and began feeling its surfaces. “This unique ring was created at the same time as the Masonic Pyramid, and traditionally, it is worn by the Mason in charge of protecting the pyramid. Tonight, when I felt the tiny circumpunct on the bottom of the stone box, I realized that the ring is, in fact, part of the symbolon.”
“I’m certain of it. Peter is my closest friend, and he wore this ring for many years. I am quite familiar with it.” He handed the ring to Langdon. “See for yourself.”
Langdon took the ring and examined it, running his fingers over the double-headed phoenix, the number 33, the words ORDO AB CHAO, and also the words All is revealed at the thirty-third degree. He felt nothing helpful. Then, as his fingers traced down around the outside of the band, he stopped short. Startled, he turned the ring over and eyed the very bottom of its band.
“Did you find it?” Galloway said.
“I think so, yes!” Langdon said.
Katherine slid her chair closer. “What?”
“The degree sign on the band,” Langdon said, showing her. “It’s so small that you don’t really notice it with your eyes, but if you feel it, you can tell it’s actually indented — like a tiny circular incision.” The degree sign was centered on the bottom of the band… and admittedly looked to be the same size as the raised nubbin in the bottom of the cube.
“Is it the same size?” Katherine moved closer still, sounding excited now.
“There’s one way to find out.” He took the ring and lowered it into the box, aligning the two tiny circles. As he pushed down, the raised circle on the box slid into the ring’s opening, and there was a faint but decisive click.
They all jumped.
Langdon waited, but nothing happened.
“What was that?!” the priest said.
“Nothing,” Katherine replied. “The ring locked into place… but nothing else happened.”
“No great transformation?” Galloway looked puzzled.
We’re not done, Langdon realized, gazing down at the ring’s embossed insignia — a double-headed phoenix and the number 33. All is revealed at the thirty-third degree. His mind filled with thoughts of Pythagoras, sacred geometry, and angles; he wondered if perhaps degrees had a mathematical meaning.
Slowly, heart beating faster now, he reached down and grasped the ring, which was affixed to the base of the cube. Then, slowly, he began turning the ring to the right. All is revealed at the thirty-third degree.
He turned the ring ten degrees… twenty degrees… thirty degrees —
What happened next, Langdon never saw coming.
Dean Galloway heard it happen, and so he didn’t need to see it.
Across the desk from him, Langdon and Katherine were dead silent, no doubt staring in mute astonishment at the stone cube, which had just transformed itself loudly before their very eyes.
Galloway couldn’t help but smile. He had anticipated the result, and although he still had no idea how this development would ultimately help them solve the riddle of the pyramid, he was enjoying the rare chance to teach a Harvard symbologist something about symbols.
“Professor,” the dean said, “few people realize that the Masons venerate the shape of the cube — or ashlar, as we call it — because it is a three-dimensional representation of another symbol… a much older, two-dimensional symbol.” Galloway didn’t need to ask if the professor recognized the ancient symbol now lying before them on the desk. It was one of the most famous symbols in the world.
Robert Langdon’s thoughts churned as he stared at the transformed box on the desk in front of him. I had no idea…
Moments ago, he had reached into the stone box, grasped the Masonic ring, and gently turned it. As he rotated the ring through thirty-three degrees, the cube had suddenly changed before his eyes. The square panels that made up the sides of the box fell away from one another as their hidden hinges released. The box collapsed all at once, its side panels and lid falling outward, slapping loudly on the desk.
The cube becomes a cross, Langdon thought. Symbolic alchemy.
Katherine looked bewildered by the sight of the collapsed cube. “The Masonic Pyramid relates to… Christianity?”
For a moment, Langdon had wondered the same thing. After all, the Christian crucifix was a respected symbol within the Masons, and certainly there were plenty of Christian Masons. However, Masons were also Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and those who had no name for their God. The presence of an exclusively Christian symbol seemed restrictive. Then the true meaning of this symbol had dawned on him.
“It’s not a crucifix,” Langdon said, standing up now. “The cross with the circumpunct in the middle is a binary symbol — two symbols fused to create one.”
“What are you saying?” Katherine’s eyes followed him as he paced the room.
“The cross,” Langdon said, “was not a Christian symbol until the fourth century. Long before that, it was used by the Egyptians to represent the intersection of two dimensions — the human and the celestial. As above, so below. It was a visual representation of the juncture where man and God become one.”
“The circumpunct,” Langdon said, “we already know has many meanings — one of its most esoteric being the rose, the alchemical symbol for perfection. But, when you place a rose on the center of a cross, you create another symbol entirely — the Rose Cross.”
Galloway reclined in his chair, smiling. “My, my. Now you’re cooking.”
Katherine stood now, too. “What am I missing?”
“The Rose Cross,” Langdon explained, “is a common symbol in Freemasonry. In fact, one of the degrees of the Scottish Rite is called ‘Knights of the Rose Cross’ and honors the early Rosicrucians, who contributed to Masonic mystical philosophy. Peter may have mentioned the Rosicrucians to you. Dozens of great scientists were members — John Dee, Elias Ashmole, Robert Fludd —”
“Absolutely,” Katherine said. “I’ve read all of the Rosicrucian manifestos in my research.”
Every scientist should, Langdon thought. The Order of the Rose Cross — or more formally the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis — had an enigmatic history that had greatly influenced science and closely paralleled the legend of the Ancient Mysteries… early sages possessing secret wisdom that was passed down through the ages and studied by only the brightest minds. Admittedly, history’s list of famous Rosicrucians was a who’s who of European Renaissance luminaries: Paracelsus, Bacon, Fludd, Descartes, Pascal, Spinoza, Newton, Leibniz.
According to Rosicrucian doctrine, the order was “built on esoteric truths of the ancient past,” truths which had to be “concealed from the average man” and which promised great insight into “the spiritual realm.” The brotherhood’s symbol had blossomed over the years into a flowering rose on an ornate cross, but it had begun as a more modest dotted circle on an unadorned cross — the simplest manifestation of the rose on the simplest manifestation of the cross.
“Peter and I often discuss Rosicrucian philosophy,” Galloway told Katherine.
As the dean began outlining the interrelationship between Masonry and Rosicrucianism, Langdon felt his attention drawn back to the same nagging thought he’d had all night. Jeova Sanctus Unus. This phrase is linked to alchemy somehow. He still could not remember exactly what Peter had told him about the phrase, but for some reason, the mention of Rosicrucianism seemed to have rekindled the thought. Think, Robert!
“The Rosicrucian founder,” Galloway was saying, “was allegedly a German mystic who went by the name Christian Rosenkreuz — a pseudonym obviously, perhaps even for Francis Bacon, who some historians believe founded the group himself, although there is no proof of —”
“A pseudonym!” Langdon declared suddenly, startling even himself. “That’s it! Jeova Sanctus Unus! It’s a pseudonym!”
“What are you talking about?” Katherine demanded.
Langdon’s pulse had quickened now. “All night, I’ve been trying to remember what Peter told me about Jeova Sanctus Unus and its relationship to alchemy. Finally I remembered! It’s not about alchemy so much as about an alchemist! A very famous alchemist!”
Galloway chuckled. “It’s about time, Professor. I mentioned his name twice and also the word pseudonym.”
Langdon stared at the old dean. “You knew?”
“Well, I had my suspicions when you told me the engraving said Jeova Sanctus Unus and had been decrypted using Dürer’s alchemical magic square, but when you found the Rose Cross, I was certain. As you probably know, the personal papers of the scientist in question included a very heavily annotated copy of the Rosicrucian manifestos.”
“Who?” Katherine asked.
“One of the world’s greatest scientists!” Langdon replied. “He was an alchemist, a member of the Royal Society of London, a Rosicrucian, and he signed some of his most secretive science papers with a pseudonym — ‘Jeova Sanctus Unus’!”
“One True God?” Katherine said. “Modest guy.”
“Brilliant guy, actually,” Galloway corrected. “He signed his name that way because, like the ancient Adepts, he understood himself as divine. In addition, because the sixteen letters in Jeova Sanctus Unus could be rearranged to spell his name in Latin, making it a perfect pseudonym.”
Katherine now looked puzzled. “Jeova Sanctus Unus is an anagram of a famous alchemist’s name in Latin?”
Langdon grabbed a piece of paper and pencil off the dean’s desk, writing as he talked. “Latin interchanges the letters J for I and the letter V for U, which means Jeova Sanctus Unus can actually be perfectly rearranged to spell this man’s name.”
Langdon wrote down sixteen letters: Isaacus Neutonuus.
He handed the slip of paper to Katherine and said, “I think you’ve heard of him.”
“Isaac Newton?” Katherine demanded, looking at the paper. “That’s what the engraving on the pyramid was trying to tell us!”
For a moment, Langdon was back in Westminster Abbey, standing at Newton’s pyramidical tomb, where he had experienced a similar epiphany. And tonight, the great scientist surfaces again. It was no coincidence, of course… the pyramids, mysteries, science, hidden knowledge… it was all intertwined. Newton’s name had always been a recurring guidepost for those seeking secret knowledge.
“Isaac Newton,” Galloway said, “must have something to do with how to decipher the meaning of the pyramid. I can’t imagine what it would be, but —”
“Genius!” Katherine exclaimed, her eyes going wide. “That’s how we transform the pyramid!”
“You understand?” Langdon said.
“Yes!” she said. “I can’t believe we didn’t see it! It has been staring us right in the face. A simple alchemical process. I can transform this pyramid using basic science! Newtonian science!”
Langdon strained to understand.
“Dean Galloway,” Katherine said. “If you read the ring, it says —”
“Stop!” The old dean suddenly raised his finger in the air and motioned for silence. Gently, he cocked his head to the side, as if he were listening to something. After a moment, he stood up abruptly. “My friends, this pyramid obviously has secrets left to reveal. I don’t know what Ms. Solomon is getting at, but if she knows your next step, then I have played my role. Pack up your things and say no more to me. Leave me in darkness for the moment. I would prefer to have no information to share should our visitors try to force me.”
“Visitors?” Katherine said, listening. “I don’t hear anyone.”
“You will,” Galloway said, heading for the door. “Hurry.”
Across town, a cell tower was attempting to contact a phone that lay in pieces on Massachusetts Avenue. Finding no signal, it redirected the call to voice mail.
“Robert!” Warren Bellamy’s panicked voice shouted. “Where are you?! Call me! Something terrible is happening!”
In the cerulean glow of his basement lights, Mal’akh stood at the stone table and continued his preparations. As he worked, his empty stomach growled. He paid no heed. His days of servitude to the whims of his flesh were behind him.
Transformation requires sacrifice.
Like many of history’s most spiritually evolved men, Mal’akh had committed to his path by making the noblest of flesh sacrifices. Castration had been less painful than he had imagined. And, he had learned, far more common. Every year, thousands of men underwent surgical gelding — orchiectomy, as the process was known — their motivations ranging from transgender issues, to curbing sexual addictions, to deep-seated spiritual beliefs. For Mal’akh, the reasons were of the highest nature. Like the mythological self-castrated Attis, Mal’akh knew that achieving immortality required a clean break with the material world of male and female.
The androgyne is one.
Nowadays, eunuchs were shunned, although the ancients understood the inherent power of this transmutational sacrifice. Even the early Christians had heard Jesus Himself extol its virtues in Matthew 19:12: “There are those who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”
Peter Solomon had made a flesh sacrifice, although a single hand was a small price in the grand scheme. By night’s end, however, Solomon would be sacrificing much, much more.
In order to create, I must destroy.
Such was the nature of polarity.
Peter Solomon, of course, deserved the fate that awaited him tonight. It would be a fitting end. Long ago, he had played the pivotal role in Mal’akh’s mortal life path. For this reason, Peter had been chosen to play the pivotal role in Mal’akh’s great transformation. This man had earned all the horror and pain he was about to endure. Peter Solomon was not the man the world believed he was.
He sacrificed his own son.
Peter Solomon had once presented his son, Zachary, with an impossible choice — wealth or wisdom. Zachary chose poorly. The boy’s decision had begun a chain of events that eventually dragged the young man into the depths of hell. Soganlik Prison. Zachary Solomon had died in that Turkish prison. The whole world knew the story… but what they didn’t know was that Peter Solomon could have saved his son.
I was there, Mal’akh thought. I heard it all.
Mal’akh had never forgotten that night. Solomon’s brutal decision had meant the end of his son, Zach, but it had been the birth of Mal’akh.
Some must die that others may live.
As the light over Mal’akh’s head began changing color again, he realized the hour was late. He completed his preparations and headed back up the ramp. It was time to attend to matters of the mortal world.
All is revealed at the thirty-third degree, Katherine thought as she ran. I know how to transform the pyramid! The answer had been right in front of them all night.