The hottest place in hell is destined for those who remain neutral during a moral crisis.
All works of art and literature, as well as scientific data and historical events, mentioned in this book, are real.
The consortium is a private organization with offices in seven countries. Its name has been changed for security reasons and confidentiality.
Inferno – the underworld, depicted in Dante Alighieri’s epic poem “Divine Comedy” in the form of a complexly organized underground kingdom populated by so-called shadows, that is, disembodied souls forever stuck between life and death.
I’m running on an outcast selenium.
I try to escape through the everlasting moan.
On the banks of the Arno River, I run, panting… turn
But they are still chasing me.
They follow my trail with inexorable determination, and their steps are heard louder.
For a year now this persecution has lasted. Their insistence forced me to hide in the underground… to live in purgatory… to vegetate underground, like a chthonic monster.
Here, on the surface, I look to the north, but I can not find a direct path to salvation… for the Apennine mountains close the first glimpse of the dawn.
I am a mined palace, its crenellated tower and a clock with one arrow… I slip among the early street vendors in the San Firenze square with their rough voices and breath giving lampredotto  and fried olives. Cross the square in front of Bargello, turn west, to the spire of Badia, and with a stroke I rest against the iron grate at the base of the stairs.
Here it is necessary that the soul be firm .
I open the latticed door and step into the narrow passage, knowing that there will be no return from there. With difficulty I force my feet, as if poured with lead, to move along the old, chipped marble steps, spiraling leading to the sky.
Below you hear the echo of voices. They cry out to me.
My pursuers are not far behind – they are
They do not understand what awaits them… and what I did for them!
I rise, and obsessive visions re-enter me… bodies of sensualists writhing under a fiery torrent, the souls of gluttons, sinking in uncleanness, vile traitors, frozen in the icy clutches of Satan.
I overcome the last steps and barely get out alive, up to the damp morning coolness. I rush to the tall, parapet-like human growth and look through the gap between the battlements. Far below, a blessed city stretches out, which served me as a refuge from those who expelled me.
Their voices are called, approaching. “What you did is insane!”
Madness engenders insanity.
“For the love of the Lord,” they shout, “Tell us where you hid it!”
It is for the love of the Lord that I will not tell them.
And so I stand, cornered, with my back to the cold stone. They look deep into my clear green eyes, and their faces are darkening – persuasion is replaced by threats. “You know that we have ways. We will force you to discover where it is.”
That’s why I’m here now, halfway to the sky.
Without warning, I turn around and throw up my hands, grab the high edge of the parapet, pull myself up and climb there – I kneel, then to my feet… balancing the abyss. Show me the way through the abyss, my Virgil!
They rush forward, they want to grab my legs, but they are afraid that I will lose my balance and fall. Now they again beg me in silent despair, but I have already turned away from them. I know what I must do.
Below me, in the dizzying distance, stretch the red tiled roofs – they look like a fiery sea, illuminating this wonderful country, which once roamed the Giants… Giotto, Donatello, Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Botticelli.
I’m moving a little closer to the edge.
“Get off!” They shout, “it’s not too late!”
Oh, you stubborn ignoramuses! Do not you see the future? Do not you understand how beautiful my creation is? And how is it necessary?
I will happily bring this last sacrifice… and at the same time and destroy your last hope of finding what you are looking for.
You will never find him on time.
The cobblestone square hundreds of feet below me looks tempting, like a quiet harbor. If only I had a bit of time… but time is the only thing not to buy even for all my untold riches.
In these last seconds I look around the area below and suddenly I stunned.
I see your face there.
You look at me from the shadows. Your look is sad, and yet there reveres in him awe before what I have achieved. You understand that I have no choice. For the love of mankind, I must protect my masterpiece.
Even now it is growing… waiting… silently whistling in the blood-red waters, where the stars do not look.
And then I tear my eyes away from you and direct them to the horizon. Standing high above this tortured world, I offer my final prayer.
Lord, let the world remember me not as a monstrous sinner, but as a glorious savior – you know that this is my true role. I ask You, let humanity understand the meaning of the gift that I leave to it.
My gift is the future.
My gift is salvation.
My gift is Inferno.
Then I whisper “Amen” … and I make my last step – into the abyss.
Memories surfaced slowly… like bubbles from the darkness of a bottomless well.
Robert Langdon looked at her across the river, the stormy waters of which were red with blood. The woman stood on the other bank, turned to him, motionless, majestic. Her face was veiled. In her hand, she held a blue bandage – tainiya, and then picked it up, paying tribute to the sea of dead at her feet. The smell of death was poured into the air.