Last week I posted a excerpt from Kovax’s semi-official piece of Tannhauser fiction. Today, I've finished the translation of the 30 page document and before I make it into a PDF I’d like everyone interested to take a look, and leave any corrections as comments below.
Well I hope you enjoy, read the whole story after the jump…
THE OBSCURA CARDINAL POINT
THE MONASTERY OF PATMOS:
Patmos, September 2, 1949
Professor Hans Kamler was studying one of the many inscriptions adorning the tomb of a knight of the tenth century when he heard one of his men approaching at a run. Once there, the soldier gave a slight clearing of the throat. Kamler turned to him and wiped his perspiring forehead. He sighed, and then stored his glasses in his shirt pocket. He had been several hours studying the tomb, enclosed in one of the galleries of the underground necropolis, and fatigue was beginning to set in.
"What?" Kamler asked.
"They want you in the village Professor," said the soldier. "It's important."
The attitude of the soldier dictated to the Professor that he follow immediately; even though he resented to be disturbed while he worked, yet this could really be an emergency, he thought. When Kamler and when the soldier arrived at the open air, the Professor was dazzled by the sun that was already high in the sky. It should be past noon, another sleepless night, he thought. This site was such an attraction for him that he no longer counted the number of sleepless nights he had spent underground, among the graves.
Arriving at the village, Kamler got out of the car and walked to the house where his visitor was waiting. Sitting at a desk was the Marquis General Hermann von Heïzinger. He was an old man, whose wrinkled face looked like an old parchment, wrapped in his leather coat black wearing the Iron Cross, but if he looked frail, he was not nearly as vulnerable as his appearance suggested. The Marquis-General had a sharp eyes and cold expression that erased the initial impression of weakness and made him appear as formidable as ever.
Behind him stood his faithful Lieutenant and bodyguard, Karl "Ozo" Zermann, living proof of the alliance between the Reich and U-Worlds. Zermann intimidated even the bravest soldiers of the Reich. Standing in a corner of the room, he dominated the office with his imposing stature. The scars that covered his right arm and a good half of his face twinkled slightly.
The surprise visit of the head of the 13th Occult Division displeased Kamler, but he still tried to hide his resentment.
"Welcome to Patmos, Herr General," Kamler said in a tone that he hoped was welcoming. "To what do I owe the honor of your visit?"
"I do not come here for sightseeing," Herr Professor, von Heïzinger answered dryly. "I was sent here by the order of the Reichdoktor Harbinger to review your last report, and see the progress of your work. Patmos interests him lot, you know? Moreover, now and in his name, I put this site under military administration, your tenure here is coming to an end."
Kamler knew that this moment would come, this site was of such richness that the Obscura Korps, sooner or later, would come here to appropriate his research. The Professor felt ill, facing the General and this Lieutenant who do scary things in dark places. However, he could nothing to stop this.
A parade of cars and trucks headed for the monastery. In the lead car, von Heïzinger, Zermann, and Kamler lead a team of archaeologists, who came with General and were supervised by a contingent of troops from the 13th Occult Division. Gradually, as they approached their destination, they saw the monastery, the huge stone building surrounded by towers and overlooking the valley from the top of the hill. Arriving at the entrance to the monastery, two soldiers came down to the convoy and immediately went on guard outside the door. Kamler entered, followed closely by the Marquis and his Lieutenant. Kamler opened his arms as if to embrace the vastness of the room where they were:
"Here, General, the monastery of Patmos, which houses the tombs of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, you may know the better as the Knights of Malta ..."
"I already know all this, Professor," interrupted the Marquis. "Tell me more about the new galleries that you have discovered."
Kamler tried to remain calm in front of von Heïzinger, and then resumed his course:
"Yes, yes, General. As you know, there are some tombs of knights in this monastery. But we recently discovered in this false tomb that housed a passage to a secret burial ground ..." Kamler pointed to the passage to the underground, and continued: "But it's a maze down there. Many galleries collapsed over time and between the archaeological work, and delivery inventory, we have not yet explored ..."
"Very interesting ..." said von Heïzinger, who no longer seemed to want to cut off Kamler's words now. "We will visit these galleries Professor."
"This way, Herr General,” The Professor followed the Marquis and Zermann, down the stone stairs and walked through the galleries. Kamler lit the way with his flashlight. Behind him, the scars of Zermann seemed to shine even more than when they before. On each side of the galleries, the Marquis could see many entries in which Kamler's teams continued to work. Everywhere, archaeologists worked on the graves. Others brought back out various relics shields, swords, jewelry...
The trio walked for several minutes, depending Kamler to guide through this maze that seemed endless. They had not met anyone for a while, and soon the only sound was that of their footsteps echoing in the galleries. Suddenly, at a crossroads, while Kamler was going to turn left, the General and Zermann stopped simultaneously. The Professor turned and watched anxiously.
"Something is wrong?" asked the Professor.
"You feel it, do not you, Karl?" The Marquis addressed Zermann without paying any attention to Kamler.
"Yes ... There is something," said the giant. "It's small, but it should not be far away."
"You are right ... Professor, we will turn right."
"As you wish," said Kamler.
They reached the bottom of a gallery that had apparently been accessed only recently. According to Kamler, it had collapsed centuries ago and was one of the rooms that the teams of Professor had yet to study. The room was about ten feet square and in its center was a grave apparently identical to all those they had already seen. As von Heïzinger approached, neither Zermann, let alone Kamler dared go in before the Marquis, but he did not yet enter this room. The General still felt the mysterious presence. Better yet, now he heard as a whisper...
"You hear it, Karl?" he asked.
"Nein, I usually do not hear anything at all," said his Lieutenant. "But you because ... Something is secret ... Something ... powerful, he added eagerly."
"And he has not inspected this room ... What a fool," muttered von Heïzinger so that Kamler could not hear it.
"It's better that way," whispered Zermann. "Now only you have access to its contents."
"Ja ... You're right, Karl," said the Marquis in the same tone with a wicked smile. "Kamler's incompetence we will have at least done us this small service ..."
Kamler felt he was too much for this aside. He knew that the low whispers and knowing glances exchanged by von Heïzinger and Zermann were relevant to this room, but he did not see what seemed to excite them as much. But General was a great medium, and Zermann was not really human. Who knows what they could see here? Then the General spoke to him:
"Professor," said the Marquis, "Apparently, you lack the means to your ambitions. That's why I'm here. With the increased presence of the Obscura Korps on this site, we will receive more resources important to explore this necropolis in detail."
"Us ..." said Kamler, "Do I understand you plan to stay with us, General? We can..."
"Yes, I'll be here to supervise the excavation," said the General cutting Kamler off mid sentence. "This site is very important to Reichdoktor Harbinger and it is normal for the Obscura Korps to closely monitor the progress of your work. In addition," said von Heïzinger, "my research team will join you, to help you, of course. But we want progress, and we want it quickly."
"All right, thank you General," Kamler said with a hint of bitterness.
"You may have your leave, Professor. We know how to get out of here, and preparation to ensure that my office is ready for my return."
"Your office?" asked Kamler. "You mean my own, I presume?"
"No, Professor. I speak from my office. You will easily find a new place to store your small business," taunted the General. "Will you not, Professor?
"... Of course, General," said Kamler whose anger escalated. "See you, General."
Kamler headed for the exit. He was beside himself with rage. For six years, he worked tirelessly on this site, and now overnight, the Obscure Korps appropriated his research, because even if he remained in place, he found himself supervised by teams of researchers in the pay of von Heïzinger, which was to reap the fruits of his labor. Once outside, Kamler tried to look calm. Not only to his scientists but also to the personal troops of the General who were already in place, working on the site or on patrol. Kamler knew it was better to look good: it was extremely risky to openly defy a General, especially when the General is named Hermann von Heïzinger...
For his part, the General felt that the fun that the Professor had, was that of a scientist who was playing on these searches as a child in a sandbox. Kamler was not a visionary like him. The Marquis felt a presence here that the so-called eminent professor had not felt as he rummaged through the past six years! This thing that he felt so powerful! He knew he would soon get his hands on something that would make him an indispensable man in the Reich.
Accompanied by Zermann, the General left the monastery a few minutes after Kamler. He motioned to his Lieutenant, who bent his head to listen:
"Karl, get the officer responsible for the supervision of our archaeologists," said von Heïzinger. "What's his name, is he there already?"
"Van der Agerr," Herr General. "What should I tell him?"
"Have him arrange with Kamler for the new organization of the excavations. Let Kamler do what he wants, but it is imperative that it be one of our teams excavate the room we just left."
"I understand," Zermann said, thinking back to what he saw there. "I'll go and talk to him right away."
While Zermann walked away, von Heïzinger turned to look again once more at the monastery. Inside this building overlooking the hills of Patmos, was something that would change not only the course of the war, but also the whole world. The General allowed himself a smile and murmured: "And soon ... this incredible power is in my hands..."
DISCOVERING THE AMULET:
Patmos, September 2, 1949,
The room that interested the Marquis General Hermann von Heïzinger covered the heart of the Patmos necropolis, and was last site to be occupied by one of his teams. It took two weeks of tough negotiations between the responsible "official" site commander, Professor Hans Kamler, and Captain van der Agerr, appointed by the Marquis to organize the dig site with the professor. During this time, the level where the mysterious room was remained as abandoned, as it had been for millennia. The insistence of Van der Agerr (and perhaps also the fear that the Marquis and his Lieutenant Karl Zermann could inspire) had paid off: Kamler had assigned the Obscura Korps to excavate this latest find.
Van der Agerr sighed as he crushed his cigarette butt against his boot heel. Guarding these archaeologists was far from passion, and it had been a long time since he had last had seen the sun. He patted the shoulder of one of the soldiers who accompanied him to say he was going to take a break in the light of day, when they heard one of the scientists to a cry out in fear and surprise. The captain turned quickly, his hand on the butt of his MG42 "Spandau," but there was no apparent danger.
In the distance, van der Agerr saw the archaeologist fall backwards at the tomb of a knight that he had opened, where a strange blue light emanated from inside the tomb. When the captain came to see what it contained, he could not believe his eyes. Inside laid the body of a man, probably a knight under his clothes. However, the body of this man was more like that of someone died there two or three days instead of a thousand year old corpse. He held in his hands a two-handed sword decorated with strange inscriptions on the blade and was on his neck the fragment of a pendant which seemed older than the catacombs themselves. Without taking his eyes from the grave, van der Agerr spoke to one of the men:
"Go and get the General, tell him we’ve found what he wanted."
When he heard the news, General von Heïzinger and Lieutenant Karl Zermann ran as fast as possible. The archaeologists had returned to work again, and began to study the inscriptions on the grave. The Marquis was overwhelmed with excitement when he saw the tomb and blue aura that filled the entire room. He approached van der Agerr, who had not moved since the discovery.
"Good job, Hauptmann,” said the Marquis. “You have done well to send for me.”
“Thank you, Herr General,” said Van der Agerr. “I knew you would want attend this discovery yourself."
But the Marquis was not listening to what the captain said, nor did he pay attention to the archaeologists who worked in the room. Its whole mind was concentrated on the piece of pendant worn by the knight. He saw only the amulet, nothing else mattered.
“This is the object...” Karl said to the Marquis.
“This amulet, this power, is the key, I'm sure! Do you not feel it, Karl?”
“If this artifact has great power General,” said Zermann. “Then shouldn’t we wait for men to finish their study before we remove it?”
“No, Karl!” The Marquis went into a rage at the mere thought of having wait one second. “I must have it now!"
von Heïzinger snatched the amulet from the knight's neck and felt the intense satisfaction success and the power of the artifact itself. Suddenly the ground shook under the feet of the team. The ground cracked throughout the room. The Marquis threw worried glances between the amulet and exit, but neither he nor the others had time to get out as the ground collapsed and they fell into the darkness below.
They landed a few meters down on the stone, van der Agerr went around to his men; everyone was fine, just a few bumps and bruises. Zermann helped the Marquis up. The General stood firmly the fragment of amulet clutched tightly in his hand. He looked at where they were. It was a crypt round, about two times larger than the room where they were above. There were huge rock pillars at each corner of the room. At its center, General could distinguish a huge block of stone. As he approached, he realized that it was sarcophagus even older than the graves they had saw previously, and it was strangely placed vertically. Stranger still it was kept sealed by several chains. The Marquis wanted it opened, but his Lieutenant, felt a threatening presence:
"General, are you sure you want to open that?” said Zermann.
“Do not worry, Karl,” said the Marquis. “We will enter history together!"
The Marquis took a step closer. Instinctively Zermann and van der Agerr gave discrete orders to their men to surround the sarcophagus. Suddenly, the amulet began to vibrate and the Marquis looked back. The hand that held the artifact was going against his will into the sarcophagus. Chains around it fell, and the sarcophagus opened. There was a cloud of smoke, and a figure came out. The Colossus had been imprisoned here for centuries, and it was so great and impressive that it inspired fear even in the minds of Heïzinger and Zermann. Its hands, which could easily have gripped two human heads were terminated by claws that seemed sharp as steel. When the devil finally opened his eyes red like blood, he looked first Zermann and van der Agerr, the soldiers around him, and archaeologists petrified with terror. Then it stared at the amulet and then Marquis. It groaned loudly before approaching him.
“You ...” The demon pointed to the Marquis with one of his claws. “Who are you to dare release Korgonagoss, and hope to control it with this amulet? You cannot rise against me, poor insects!"
The devil moved forward and struck the Marquis, in a single fluid motion that seemed impossible for such an ungainly beast. The Marquis was thrown to the other end of the crypt. Van der Agerr and the soldiers fired, but their bullets did not faze Korgonagoss. He walked calmly over to the scientists, who were paralyzed by fear, and killed them all with a single swipe of his claws. With superhuman speed, he arrived behind one of the soldiers and beheaded him. Zermann fired a few shots from “Doom” which sparkled more than ever, then took the Marquis over his shoulder and cried towards Van der Agerr:
"We cannot fight it! Even my weapon cannot hurt him! We must leave now!
“Go with the General Lieutenant!” Van der Agerr continued to fire at the demon with his MG42 to no avail. “We'll cover you! Climb out quickly!”
“You cannot run away!” Korgonagoss finally showing an emotion was mad with. “I will take the amulet, after drinking your blood!” he shouted.
The Schocktruppen regrouped in front of their captain and continued to fire to slow down the demon who walked, insensitive to pain and thinking only the amulet. Von Heïzinger came to his senses. At last he had before him a being of Underworld, but despite all the hopes he had had about the amulet, he could not control him ... He took one last look behind him as he climbed over the rubble, but it was only the disappointment of not being able to control the demon that could destroy the Union he felt; he overlooking the respect and sacrifice of his men, feeling no sympathy for them. Zermann had reached the top and held out his hand to the General, looking down he could see what had become a bloody arena.
With each step, Korgonagoss killed a soldier. He traced a path lined with cadavers before arriving at Van der Agerr. The captain fired all his ammunition. After his heavy weapon emptied, the devil smiled and gave him a blow to torso. His uniform was torn, and the captain found himself thrown against one of pillars of the crypt.
"I had not killed so long ... I think I'll have a little fun with you, before you take care of your master,” Korgonagoss said to the captain.
Van der Agerr was ready to die. He knew he had no chance against this monstrous beast. As he got up, he laid his hand on something cold. The captain took the object. It was the sword that was with the knight in his grave, and the inscriptions on the blade shone with a soft blue light. The captain took it. With a new force, van der Agerr felt that perhaps there was hope, and pointed the sword of the devil.
"I will not let you kill me so easily, demon,” says Van der Agerr. “A soldier of the Reich is anything but weak and a coward.”
“But you are a mortal,” Korgonagoss said, laughing. “Do you think this ridiculous toy can hurt me more than your gun?”
“There is only one way to find out ... Come and see for yourself!" The captain charged, and the devil Korgonagoss tried to hit van der Agerr who managed to dodge the blow, before planting the sword deep in the chest of the demon. Korgonagoss retreated, screaming in pain and surprise.
"How dare you! Hurting a servant of Nosfero! You will pay for this insult! I'll tear you apart!” shouted Korgonagoss.
“Sorry, but I have to go,” said the captain, “another time, perhaps!"
Van der Agerr took advantage of this singular weak moment and ran to the rubble. Before climbing, he turned and saw the demon coming towards him surrounded by a mysterious aura. The captain reached into his pockets, finding three grenades, he threw them at the pillars supporting the roof of the crypt. He climbed as quickly as possible, when grenades exploded, collapsing the rest of the room on the devil. Van der Agerr climbed to the top, and rolled into the galleries while the entire area collapsed behind him, sealing away the demon Korgonagoss. The captain got up, dusted himself off and lit a crumpled cigarette.
"I'm not ready to forget you, you," he said, examining the wound inflicted Korgonagoss it was slightly shining, not unlike the scars that covered Karl Zermann’s body.
At the exit of the catacombs von Heïzinger and Zermann were still being questioned by Kamler about what they had seen. Van der Agerr saw them joining. The Marquis and his Lieutenant were surprised to see the captain alive.
"You're late, captain," the Marquis said ironically.
“I was very lucky to get out alive,” Herr General, said van der Agerr. “I managed to hurt him with this sword, and escape. Nearly all of the catacombs collapsed on him after I tossed him some grenades ... I think he’s quiet now.”
“It sounds like you are a true hero,” Hauptmann, said the Marquis. “The Kaiser will be very happy, Van der Agerr, very happy indeed. I'll get you a medal for this; it’s at least worth a small medal that will beautifully decorate that uniform yours,” laughed Heïzinger.
“Thank you, General! It is an honor you do me!” said van der Agerr.
“It is quite normal in view of your achievements today, captain ... Wait a minute ... “von Heïzinger pointed to the captain’s injury, shining like the scars of Zermann. “How did you get that?”
“Korgonagoss It struck me, General,” said van der Agerr, “a souvenir, as it were.”
“Interesting ... But go take a rest, captain, you seem ... tired. But first, let me see this sword, it might be useful later.”
“At your orders, Herr General, Goodbye, General, Goodbye, sir.”
The Marquis von Heïzinger looked again the amulet which had not left his hand, while looking back at the strange injury of van der Agerr. He turned to his Lieutenant and said:
"This captain is really a hero of the Reich. What do you think?”
“He defended well,” admitted Zermann. “But he also got lucky, very lucky.”
“Good luck or a curse ... It is the study of this sword that will tell."
The car finally arrived for the Marquis, Zermann opened von Heïzinger’s door and he sat in the back, Zermann joined him, closing the door. While the captain took his place next to the driver, the General still thought of van der Agerr. This brand ... is a sign of fate, I must keep an eye on the captain, he said. Then he took the amulet from his pocket and shivered as he felt the power contained therein. He smiled and slipped it back in. He was close to his goal and had only to decipher the clues of the amulet. Thus, he, Hermann von Heïzinger would be the first to discover and control the power of one four cardinal Obscure, and perhaps to become the new Reichdoktor the Obscura Korps...
Patmos, September 19, 1949
Three days after the discovery of the amulet and "the accident" that followed, the nightly card game was in full swing in the guard barracks near the office of the Marquis.
"We do not see much General these days," said one of the soldiers distributing the cards.
"He spends his days locked in his office," said Franz Gruber,” von Heïzinger's secretary. "I do not even know if it came out ... since the accident."
"But what can he do?" A third soldier noted, looking at his cards. "It is strange...
"Stranger than usual?" Joked a fourth.
"You should not joke about the General," Gruber said. "He knows things, even without getting out of office, and I don't know about you, but I for one would not want to be in its sights, or worse that of Zermann."
"You score a point, Hans," Franz said, shuddering.
The soldiers saw Dr. Kamler striding towards the office of von Heïzinger. Gruber got up to try and keep him out without being confronted by the General, but it was too late. As the Marquis consulted an old work and compared with the inscriptions of the amulet was when Kamler burst into his office. The teacher was apparently furious, but this was far from likely to frighten the Marquis.
"I do not think you have been asked to come, Herr Professor," says von Heïzinger without even looking up.
"I'm tired of this, General! You were supposed to be helping me in my Patmos Research! Why did you hide the discovery of this amulet? It was found on my worksite after all! Now the professor was nearly screaming at the top of his lungs.
"This," the General said, sharply, pointing to the artifact, "was found on the site by the Obscura Korps. One of my teams, teacher," corrected the General. "That team was killed. As for this amulet one of my men who gave it to me after having narrowly escaped certain death in a battle against a demon. So I shall study it! Are graves and rusty swords do not enough to keep you busy, Professor? "
Kamler's anger calmed down at once. But he had gone too far, it too late to save the situation. Examining the amulet, he tried to be more conciliatory.
"Excuse me," Herr General, "I should not have..."
"I think it's obvious, Kamler," said the Marquis. "You should learn to master your passions. Everything we do here, it's not for you, it is for our Reich. Try to remember."
"You are right, General," said the professor. "But could I look at this amulet, to help you?"
"It's out of the question!" yelled a von Heïzinger furious "It is for me alone to penetrate the mystery, you hear, me alone! Go back to your sandbox and then play with your clay pots!"
"Presented with the rage of the General, Kamler drew back in terror. At the door, he hit something. Looking up, he saw the massive silhouette of Karl "Ozo" Zermann in the doorway, his scars brilliant than ever. His fiery eyes fixed the professor.
"A problem, Herr General? Zermann asked while watching Kamler.
"Nein, Karl, I think the teacher understands now," said the Marquis, trying to look calm. "Moreover, Kamler was just leaving."
"O ... Y-Y-Yes, I'm going," stammered the professor, happy to have a loophole. "Goodbye, General."
Kamler ran as fast as possible to put as much distance between himself and the Marquis. He knew he what he'd had done would have been enough for the General to make him simply disappear. The professor returned to the monastery to work: despite the late hour, he felt he was not able to sleep tonight...
In the office of the Marquis, Zermann handed a glass of schnapps to von Heïzinger who drained it quickly. A little more relaxed now and trying to forget what had passed between him and Kamler, he turned to his Lieutenant:
"It's confirmed, this text on the amulet speaks of what is now the region of Ksiaz in Central Europe. I sent a message to Reichdoktor Harbinger. We leave for the garrison of Wroclaw tomorrow. Have the men begin to load the equipment on board the Wagner immediately."
"Jawohl! Herr General," Zermann said with a sharp salute. As he left the room he thought It is really there? The Cardinal Point Obscura...
Karl soon returned, "The men have begun loading the Wegner, Herr General," he said.
"One last thing, Karl," said the Marquis
"Kamler is likely to ask questions when he sees the Wagner prepping for flight, he must be dealt with. The intelligence services believe they have located a spy for the Union on the site, but they have not yet identified him. Dr. Kamler is the traitor, said the Marquis of icily, you've seen him try to take the amulet? He wanted to steal it and send it to the Union to help them use this power and harness the power of Cardinal Point Obscura ... You know what to do, Karl."
"Ja, General ... I'll take care of it immediately."
"Perfect," says von Heïzinger looking satisfied, at his Lieutenant.
In the necropolis, Kamler advanced as much as possible in the galleries while trying to avoid crossing paths with the teams working on behalf of the General. He had finally arrived in an empty room. The professor sat down against a wall, and lit a cigarette. Suddenly he heard a something whistle by. Kamler jumped up and looked around, but he saw no one. He began to sit down when there was an explosion. This was the last sound Professor Hans Kamler heard before collapsing to the ground on his back. At his heart, was a hole whose outlines gleamed slightly, as blood flowed slowly from the wound. At the corner of the gallery shrouded in shadow, Karl Zermann sheathed his Borchardt C-93 and returned to his quarters, without a second glance at the "traitor" he’d just shot...
The next morning in the dormitory of the archaeologists, the atmosphere was heavy. One of the scientists working for Kamler awoke and saw that her colleagues were all doing their luggage. She went to one of her friends to learn more about the excitement.
"What gives Siegfried?" She asked a colleague.
"You are not yet aware, Kirsten?" said the archaeologist.
"I just got up. Why is everyone ready to leave?
"It’s Kamler. This monster Zermann killed him," said Siegfried, whose fear was clearly visible.
"Kamler, executed? Why?" Kirsten asked, completely bewildered.
"The General informed us this morning that Kamler was a traitor to the Reich ... Can you imagine that? The fact is that now the site is classified secret, and everything is being sent by zeppelin to a new site by order of von Heïzinger.
"That's ... incredible," said Kirsten. The young archaeologist could not believe what she had heard. She dressed hastily and rushed out of the village, creeping close to where the battleship zeppelin Wagner owned by the Marquis-General was stationed. As she crept closer, she saw some of the boxes being loaded and noticed two of Schocktruppen talking. Kirsten hid behind some crates to hear without being seen.
"I do hate to travel by zeppelin ... It's so slow," complained one of the two soldiers. "It will be ten days at least before we reach the garrison of Wroclaw."
'It's not that bad," his friend replied. "Pretend it's a vacation..."
Kirsten got up quietly and ran up the road to the village at full speed. When the two men turned at the sound running, it was too late: Kirsten was already far away...
On the Wagner's loading track, von Heïzinger and Zermann were going up to board when the Karl stopped.
"A problem Karl?" asked the Marquis.
"No, General ... It was probably nothing important," said the Lieutenant but Karl felt as if he was being watched, but the feeling betrayed no immediate threat.
"Well, then go up," says von Heïzinger. "Come on, Karl."
Zermann joined the General, and a moment later, the Wagner took off and began its journey to the garrison of Wroclaw.
Once she arrived in the village, Kirsten did not go to the dormitory reserved for archaeologists, but to an old house on the edge of the village. Clearly long abandoned the house was full of dust and cobwebs, Kirsten dismantled several floorboards and pulled out a suitcase of the hole. Inside it was a radio, she plugged in microphone and began to tune the radio. When the young archaeologist finally found the frequency, she took the microphone and said:
“Rosebud to Gardener, Rosebud to Gardener… Gardener this is agent Rosebud, D-1-6-0-3-Epsilon, Can you hear me?"
“Yes, Rosebud, we are receiving you clearly.”
“I have a coded message for “General Gregory”…”
“Go ahead Rosebud.”
“Message received, Gardener out.”
Wroclaw, October 1, 1949
The sun was just going setting, but the garrison was still a fury of activity. The armored zeppelins of the Marquis General von Heïzinger had landed in the afternoon, and the soldiers were unloading the remains of the Patmos site, and moving them into storage. Amid this the General stood frothing, indifferent to what was happening around him. In a clenched fist, was a crumpled the telegram a soldier had given him a moment before; it announced that the Blutsturm Division had decided to send one of their Investigators to ostensibly lend a hand, but the General was not fooled, he knew that Blutsturm was jealous of his success, and wanted to share the glory… But the presence of one of their spies so close was enough to make even the Marquis nervous.
The Blutstrum's Investigators were feared throughout the Reich and now one was advancing towards the General and his Lieutenant. She was a beautiful woman, whose form was perfectly highlighted by a combination of black leather and the setting sun. This made her a dream of many men in the garrison since her arrival. She of course does not care.
The Investigator remembered her briefing as she walked to the Marquis: the incident at Mecca, the intrigue at Patmos, and the suspicious betrayal of von Heïzinger by Professor Kamler. Reichdoktor Harbinger was not totally convinced of Kamler's betrayal. In addition, the strange behavior of von Heïzinger reported by Kamler's worried staff of archaeologists has become of great concern to Harbinger. So now she was sent to monitor the Marquis, especially if was really about to discover one of the four Cardinal Obscura Points…
As she joined the Marquis, she greeted him:
"Welcome to Wroclaw, General, Lieutenant," she said. "I am the Investigator Eva Krämer. Thank you for waiting."
"I had no choice, Fräulein," the Marquis replied in an icy tone. "You can thank Field Marshal Komstfelder for sending you to spy on us."
"You know I'm not here for that," answered with Krämer a slight smile. "We were informed that there were partisan terrorists in the area, and I was sent to assist in your protection."
"Lieutenant Zermann is perfectly able to protect me, Fräulein. But I'm not one to discuss our orders, as they are quite classified."
"When can we leave?" Asked Zermann to try to calm the game, “the sooner the better…”
"The night will soon fall, so we cannot leave now ... but tomorrow morning, Lieutenant, in the first hour, we will get en route. The Corporal here will take you to your quarters for the night," said Krämer without noticing the words of the Marquis.
"So tomorrow then, Fräulein Krämer," said von Heïzinger. "And try to be on time this time, I hate waiting."
"Do not worry, I will not be late. See you tomorrow, Herr General."
Eva said goodbye to the two men, and turned to head towards her own quarters. She smiled, this first interview with the Marquis had gone better then she would have imagined.
The next morning, as planned, the convoy had taken the road. Ten trucks full of soldiers and archaeologists, followed the Marquis’s vehicle the through the forest. Inside the car, the atmosphere was still tense. Eva and General were both sitting in the back, and everyone took care to ignore the presence of the other as much as possible. The Investigator consulting the Patmos reports that Lieutenant Zermann had given her before the start. From the corner of her eye, she watched and saw the Marquis reach into his pocket to ensure that the amulet had not left. The General seemed more and more nervous as they approached Ksiaz.
"General,” asked Eva to try to break the ice, “where is the man who fought Korgonagoss, this van der Agerr? I did not see him at the garrison or in the convoy, and I wish to speak ...”
The Marquis cut her off suddenly, “he was recalled by the Kaiser himself, to Berlin, said the Marquis without even looking at Eva. “This man is a hero now, and our Kaiser wanted to meet him to congratulate him and reward him for his bravery.”
“I see ... This van der Agerr has entered into legend now."
Von Heïzinger did not deign it necessary to respond to the Investigator, and she did not try to extend the discussion further. The convoy was behind it seemed. Eva spoke to the driver:
"Slow down a bit, otherwise we will lose the convoy, she said."
But the driver did not answer. Instead, he accelerated even more. Zermann sitting next to him began to get agitated.
"The Investigator told you to slow down, obey!” Barked Karl.
“Lieutenant, I cannot slow down! The brakes do not respond, and the accelerator is stuck!”
“How?!” Shouted von Heïzinger.
It was then that two explosions were heard behind them. The Investigator, the General and his Lieutenant turned and saw two trees fall on the road. The lead truck braked just in time to avoid being crushed by the trees. The convoy was then blocked, but the von Heïzinger’s car continued at full speed, without any control, before finishing its run, by slamming into a tree.
The shock was violent. The car engine was smoking and both Zermann and Eva were slightly injured. However, the driver was not so lucky; he was killed instantly, slumped over the wheel. The Lieutenant hastened to help the General out. The Marquis was frail and Zermann afraid the General was in critical condition or worse. The General was miraculously unharmed much to Zermann surprise. But this does not prevent him from being in a rage.
“Sabotage, we must find the culprits! These dogs should not live even one more day! I…" The Marquis was interrupted by a burst of automatic weapon. “Who dared to shoot at a General of the Reich?!”
In a split second the Investigator took cover behind a tree. She peered around and saw movement behind a bush. Eva immediately informed the men of the danger:
The giant Zermann picked up the General as if he was weightless, and moved him quickly to safety. The grenade landed in the remains of the open car, after it exploded. Half a dozen men came out of bushes, armed with machine guns.
"You are surrounded, and there is no way out,” said one who seemed be the leader of this squad.
“That’s what you believe...” Zermann answered. The Lieutenant fired without moving from behind his cover. The bullets from his Borchardt spun wild curving paths through the air, leaving behind them thin streaks of light before lodging themselves deep in the heart of the man.
Now his men stood stunned. Eva took the initiative to advance and circle around the terrorists, to take them from behind. Suddenly she appeared behind one of the men and cracked her whip, which wrapped around the neck of his victim. The man moved, without a sound, his hands gripping the whip. His friends hearing the strangled corpse drop, decided to run, but it was too late Eva had already pulled out her Mauser:
"Tsk ... Tsk ... Tsk ... Amateurs,” said the Investigator. “You do not wait to meet officers of the Reich.”
“Drop your weapons,” added Zermann advancing towards the group and they obeyed. The four men, dressed in rags, stood in a line with their hands raised in the air, framed by the Investigator and the Lieutenant. The General reviewed his homeless prisoners, displaying an air of disgust and contempt for the men who had tried to kill him.
"Who are you? How did you know that we were coming? It’s in your best interest to answer me, I hate to repeat myself,” said the Investigator with her whip hand.
The prisoners feared the Investigator, but none seemed willing to answer. Eva cracked her whip. One of the four jumped more than others. He was close to tears. Fear of torture and death prevailed.
“I'm listening,” Eva said in a soft voice.
“T-T-The ... O-O-One of us working on the maintenance of the garrison of Wroclaw,” stammered the prisoner. “He said that an officer would go through here-TODAY, he who sabotaged the car.”
“We are fighting against the occupation of the Reich,” said another prisoner with a dry voice, spitting on the uniform of the Marquis.
Von Heïzinger approached him and gave him, striking him across the face with the back of his fist. The man fell back, but quickly regained his footing.
"Maggots...” the Marquis said calmly, but there was still a hint of rage in his words.
Eva approached the General and whispered, “It seems clear that these terrorists have no idea of our mission to Ksiaz. They no longer represent a danger. We should rejoin the convoy and entrust them to the Reichpolizei.
“We will make a stop at Ksiaz Indeed, Fräulein,” the Marquis said loudly. “These people will understand that impunity is not addressed to officers of the Reich…”
And when the trucks arrived, having finally cleared the road, von Heïzinger cast a last look at the prisoners while handling the amulet, always present in his pocket. You will understand, thought the Marquis, and I'm sure you will remember the lesson.
When the convoy finally managed to reach Ksiaz, the Marquis did not go to the police station. Instead he ordered his soldiers to bring the population of the village square. Schocktruppen surrounded by the officers of the Reich and their four prisoners faced the terrified inhabitants. von Heïzinger stepped forward and addressed them:
"Today, as we drove to this village, we were attacked by these men,” the Marquis said in an icy voice, pointing to the prisoners. “By trying to take my life, these men have betrayed our Kaiser, and each of you knows the price of betrayal!” von Heïzinger drew his Walther and fired a single shot in the head of the prisoner who had spat on him. There were cries from the crowd, some of them wanted to escape, but the Schocktruppen prevented them from leaving. Zermann remained composed, but Eva had to stifle a cry of surprise.
"I want each of you see how I punish these terrorists!” continued von Heïzinger shouting now, his anger seemed to know no bounds. “For you must fear the Reich, and know that this land is ours! We have the power of life and death over you! Remember what you see tonight! So that no one forgets that one can not oppose the Obscura Korps without suffering the consequences! "
Panic seized the crowd as the Marquis began to speak in a language forgotten for centuries. He held in his right hand a strange skull of quartz
"My God, gasped Eva, “he reveals his occult powers to all! He’s lost his mind!”
The other prisoners began to writhe and scream in pain; soon flames could be seen licking at their flesh. The people tried to escape, but von Heïzinger ordered the soldiers to force them to watch the morbid show to its inevitable end. Eva observed the cold sweat flowing down the General’s back. The eyes of the General were those of a wild, uncontrollable, beast. Even Zermann was troubled by the situation. He approached the Marquis and put his hand on the shoulder:
“Herr General, that should be enough, I think they have understood, he said."
Listening to his Lieutenant, the Marquis seemed to regain his senses, and stopped his chanting, he looked Zermann:
“Thank you, Karl. They got what they deserved, don’t you think?” The Marquis said looking at the blacked smoking corpses.
“Yes, General, But maybe you could have…”
“What is done is done,” interrupted the Marquis. “Thus, all will understand the message and no one will try to harm us again. We will go to the castle with the bare necessities: a dozen soldiers, archaeologists and their equipment. That way the other Schocktruppen will be free to create a security perimeter around the village. Their presence alone should be enough to ensure peace in the village for our mission.”
“At your command, General,” said Karl.
“We will spend the night here, we will go to the castle in the morning ... I'm tired,” sighed the Marquis. Send someone to requisition a house for the night.”
Zermann left von Heïzinger to give his orders to the soldiers. Eva joined the Marquis, who appeared weak and sweaty.
“A little excessive for some criminals, do not you think?” The Investigator did not appreciate the show that the General had given.
“Matters like this must be dealt with swiftly and violently so that others dare not emulate, Fräulein,” said von Heïzinger.
“Still, to use your powers as well ... Cannot you control yourself?
“I am in full possession of my abilities,” Investigator Krämer, said the Marquis with renewed vitality. “I’d call this a success.”
Von Heïzinger then took the amulet from his pocket and showed it to Eva, “This is neither more nor less than the key to the complete victory of our Reich… And we are so close that I will not let anyone stop me from using it. No, you see, Fräulein?”
“Yes ... I understand.” Eva withdrew; she felt her anxiety growing and did everything to hide her feelings from the eyes of soldiers, and especially the General.
Ksiaz, October 3, 1949
The morning was still young when the convoy arrived at its destination. Von Heïzinger stepped down from the Opel truck that had replaced his previously demolished car, accompanied by his faithful Lieutenant Karl Zermann and Investigator Eva Krämer. While archaeologists descended from their trucks and began to gather their equipment, the General gazed at the castle, this huge building at the foot of the mountains.
"We are here,” murmured the Marquis. “The ultimate weapon of the Reich ... It is here, I'm sure." In his pocket, he pressed the amulet and smiled. He came to the door and struck the carved knocker. Receiving no response, the Marquis grew impatient. He put his hand on the handle and was surprised to find that the door was not locked. He turned to his Lieutenant.
"Karl, Sergeant Gruber, take two men and search the premises. It seems there is no one home, but I prefer to be sure ...”
“At your service sir,” replied Zermann.
“Fräulein Krämer, I imagine that you would like to join us,” added the Marquis.
“Of course, General,” said Eva.
While Zermann, Gruber, and his men went in search of the castle’s inhabitants, the Marquis and the Investigator remained in the lobby. There they could see the first rooms of the castle. This place was loaded with history and luxury: oriental carpets on the floor of each room, large tables along each wall, and antique furniture ... But there was no indication that the castle may be abandoned, the house was well kept, and it showed.
“It is strange that no one came to greet us,” said Eva.
“You are right, Fräulein, but it has little importance,” said the General. “If the castle is inhabited, we will expel people who live here to ensure that nobody is spying on us during this mission. If empty, it will facilitate our mission just as well.”
“It's true ... By the way, who owns the castle?”
A small aristocratic family, linked to the Romanian branch of Brasov apparently, judging by the arms hung on the wall in front of us, replied the Marquis. “We will not have problems with these people, believe me,” he added with a smile.
Ten minutes later, Zermann returned with other soldiers and made their report to the General. There was no one at the castle, but one thing was sure; its occupants were gone recently.
“Why would they leave? Nobody could predict our arrival?” Eva asked.
“I told you, Fräulein, it does not matter,” dryly replied the Marquis. “The castle is deserted, that's what counts. Gruber, bring in the archaeologists and start the preparations. Also prepare the organization of the safety device with the rest of men.
“At your orders, Herr General,” said Gruber.
“Karl, come with me, I want to visit every room in the castle...”
“I’ll come with you, General,” said Eva.
Zermann turned to Investigator and glared at her. The Lieutenant knew she was there to try to destroy the reputation of his General, and detested this. Von Heïzinger, meanwhile, attended the scene with some levity.
“There is out of the question, Investigator Krämer,” said the Lieutenant doing all not to let his anger explode. “You are not here just to keep us safe? So go and lend a hand to Gruber instead, and we will take care of our mission.”
“If you insist,” said Eva, noting that she clearly could not change their minds. “But…”
“Do not worry, we'll give you the information need to do your small reports to the High Command tonight at dinner,” cut Zermann. “You will need to know, nothing more, nothing less.” With that, he turned and left the hall. General von Heïzinger with broad smile looked at Eva and said:
“Do not take it personally, Fräulein, but Karl is very protective of me. And I fear that your presence will make uncomfortable. But he knows very well that we are all on the same side, are we not?”
“Of course, Herr General,” Eva replied trying not to seem too ironic in contrast to the Marquis. “On this night when…”
Without allowing her to finish, von Heïzinger left the hall and joined his Lieutenant. Eva shook her fists and tried to regain her composure quickly; Zermann would do anything to complicate her task, but she would not loose. She had all authority from her position here, but still cunning and caution were required.
The next day Eva went to the office of the Marquis, that he had setup in the library. All day she stayed with his Section Kaos to secure the castle and the work of archaeologists was secure. This work was beginning to become quite annoying, but she had little choice at this time. Whenever the Investigator was tried to approach closer to excavations to investigate, Zermann would appear out of nowhere to stop her.
Eva sighed and knocked on the door of the office of von Heïzinger it was time for her to make her report.
"Come in!" The voice of the Marquis was still as authoritative as usual, but Eva also detected some fatigue. She opened the door, walked into office, and stood facing von Heïzinger.
"Ah, Fräulein Krämer... How are you today?”
“Fine, Herr General,” said Eva. “I just finished my round of inspection. All access to the castle is secure.”
“Very good, Fräulein… Well, all goes as planned ... we getting closer to our goal."
While the Marquis spoke, Eva realized how von Heïzinger had changed since their arrival at the castle. He seemed weak, although his determination was still intact. It was clear that von Heïzinger had definitely crossed the line, or could he still be brought back? All this worrying the Investigator, but she had to learn more.
“General ... Where are you in your research?”
“All I can say is that we are the right place.” The excitement of the Marquis grew as he spoke of the progress of his research. “The first occupants of the castle, I think, knew very well what they were building here in the sixteenth century ... I translated the inscriptions on the Amulet fragment found in Patmos, and it mention some remains that archaeologists have found here tonight. Believe me, dear, they knew what was under their feet…”
“The Axis Mundi, Eva whispered with a shudder.”
“Yes, Fräulein… An immeasurable power… And I'm going to discover it, me Hermann von Heïzinger!”
“For the greatness of the Empire, of course,” said Eva as a call to order.
“Of course,” replied the Marquis, with a slight laugh. The awkward silence that followed was quickly interrupted by Gruber, who entered immediately after hitting the door.
“I told you not to bother me until I have not completed STUDY of the amulet!”
“This is important, General, replied cautiously Grüber… “The archaeologists… They found a secret passage in the chapel… which leads to the catacombs…”
“Secret catacombs?! We’ve nearly reached the goal!”
The Marquis rushed to the chapel, followed by Gruber and Eva. They all three entered the chapel, and saw the access that archaeologists had excavated and expanded. Zermann stood at attention at the arrival of the General. Before him, a chasm with a flight of stairs leading down towards the dark and perhaps to an unprecedented power in this world, von Heïzinger then addressed his archaeologists:
"You have done very well, I congratulate you, thanks to you, our time is fast approaching! This is not the time to falter! After the meal, I want you to get all in the crypt and you redouble our efforts! For our Kaiser!
“For our Kaiser!” Archaeologists answered the call of the Marquis as soldiers would have done, before dispersing for dinner.”
The General approached the entrance to the crypt and closed his eyes. He felt the power, so close he could almost touch it ... He was so close! He opened eyes and remembered that he was not alone. He coughed slightly.
“I must also prepare myself,” he murmured, “to be ready for the day we will face…” The Marquis paused and turned to face Zermann, Eva, and Gruber. “I return to my office,” he said. “I want all objects that are found there below assigned to me for study,” he ordered Gruber. “Do not leave anything to chance.”
Gruber answered before leaving to join the archaeologists, and relay the Marquis instructions.
“Karl, you will supervise the excavation.”
“At your orders, Herr General,” said the Lieutenant.
“And what can I do to help?” asked Eva.
“You ... The Marquis pretended to think for a moment before answering. “You will continue to do your job as a messenger; you will keep the staff informed of the information that Lieutenant Zermann provides you.”
The Lieutenant muttered something, but nodded.
Eva could not conceal her anger at the remarks of the Marquis, and the latter had noticed.
“Don’t take offense Fräulein. After all, you will be privileged to witness a historic moment, that's not a little thing…” With a grin, von Heïzinger left the chapel and went to his office. Eva had a strong desire to smile back to the Marquis, but she did not, and she said nothing when he passed by her leaving. She also saw that Zermann was still watching, and his black eyes sent a clear message; she was not welcome on the site of the excavations.
Ksiaz, October 6, 1949
The Investigator Eva Kramer was in a foul mood. For last two days she had been confined to castle Ksiaz, with ten soldiers; doing whatever the Marquis General von Heïzinger had kindly required, but she had departing from her true purpose she was there to monitor the General and progress of the excavations of the catacombs of the castle. However von Heïzinger’s ever faithful Lieutenant, Karl Zermann, watched over the entrance to the crypt to ensure that the Investigator does not interfere with the work of the General. Powerless, Eva sighed as she watched over the archaeologists so she could provide regular reports on the relics discovered in the crypt and give them to the office of the Marquis von Heïzinger. He had not left his office for two days. It was something strange... And she was determined to solve this mystery, whatever the costs.
This afternoon, like every afternoon, since she had come to join the 13th Occult Division, Eva went to the office of the General to report on the status of the ten soldiers present in the castle, and the division present in the area of Ksiaz, and repeat the same message for the last two days: "nothing to report." Should there be a danger, Eva thought, there was no doubt it would not come from outside...
But today as she approached the door to Heïzinger’s office, just as she was about to knock on the door she heard a strange noise. She listened to the General talking to someone…
“We are almost there, the General said in a tone that betrayed his excitement… And soon even the gods envy the power here at your fingertips! And together we will be invincible! I will lead the Empire to victory! …Nothing will stop us! Thanks to you, and extraordinary destiny I offered to..."
To whom could von Heïzinger speak? Zermann was in the chapel... The Investigator held her breath and opened the door abruptly. She expected everything from the Marquis, but what she saw in the office, that he was alone, sitting on his chair. Nevertheless, the General looked exhausted at the edge of discomfort. Surprised, he tried to regain his senses and sat up straight in his chair to speak to the Investigator:
“It is very impolite to enter without knocking, Fräulein Krämer.”
“I'm sorry, Herr General, I thought I heard a noise and I thought…”
“I appreciate your concern,” he replied dryly, “but you see I am in no danger.”
“Yes ... But you look tired. Are you well?”
“Do not worry, it's nothing,” replied the Marquis, wiping his forehead with a handkerchief. “I will lead this mission to the end, no matter what. But my age does catch up with me sometimes. You see, Fräulein, when you reach the age 93 like me, you will be less fit you also…” von Heïzinger had one those smiles that made Eva feel uncomfortable.
But Eva returned a polite smile, saying, “I feel reassured. I'll just give you my daily report: nothing to report as usual.”
“Very good. But this is no reason to let down our guard: I do not want anyone interfere with our mission. Absolutely no one. Understood?”
“Yes, sir,” said Eva.
“Well ... Nice to see that we agree on something. You can have leave, Fräulein."
Eva did not need to pray more and walked away. When the Investigator left the office of the General, she doubted a little more the ability of the Marquis to complete this mission. The brutal execution of terrorists in Ksiaz village and his present attitude, all that worried her seriously. Could it be too late to bring him back to reason?
For his part, once the door to his office closed, von Heïzinger double-locked it before sitting down in his chair, and taking the Patmos amulet from his pocket and pressing it between his long bony fingers. He spoke lovingly to it as a father might to a child:
"Nothing will stop us,” he whispered… “And especially not this spy.”
The next day Eva patrolling again, and as the day drew to a close, she as frustrated as a caged lion. She headed for the chapel, she didn’t know why because it was always guarded by a priori Zermann, always, the good watchdog. But this time von Heïzinger’s Lieutenant was not there, there was just a simple soldier. Maybe this was it, her only chance to get in these catacombs. It was an opportunity and Eva was determined to seize it. Confident she approached the guard.
The soldier almost knocked over his coffee when Eva spoke to him. He stared for long moment before answering, "H-h-hello, Domina Krämer.”
“I’ve startled you, it seems,” Eva said with a chuckle, as she passed a hand slowly through his hair before speaking again. “Do not worry, I will do you no harm, she added with a slight nod. Oberjäger?”
“Herz, Maim, Oberjäger Markus Herz.
“It's a pretty name ... But tell me, Lieutenant Zermann is not with you?”
“No, Fräulein. He had to leave. He told me to guard the entrance to the crypt. No one should go in without permission,” said Herz. “And I'm sorry; you know that you do not have the permission of the General.”
“Yes, I know, Markus, may I call you Markus?” Eva replied with a smirk.
“B ... Of course,” Herz stammered, blushing.
“But you know, Markus, I am a woman and women are very curious, and I would so love to take a look below…”
“Please, Markus… Five minutes… Do not worry, no one will ever know…”
“I know, but…” Herz hesitated, before finally yielded to her charming smile. “Well, okay, you win, but just five minutes… And don’t tell anyone what see down there! I do not want trouble with the Lieutenant.”
“Thank you, Markus! You are an angel! I know I’ll remember it!”
Herz blushed even more and wanted to ask something to Eva, but did not even have time to say a word; Investigator had already disappeared into the black below. As she descended Eva smiled, imagining what Herz would have proposed if she had not departed so quickly, “Men… so predictable.”
The Investigator continued her descent and finally she would see the real objective of their mission here.
As Eva was progressing through the corridors of the crypt, the Investigator felt increasingly oppressed. The atmosphere was heavy, and it was increasingly hot. This place was most uncomfortable to the young woman. Arriving at an intersection, she heard footsteps approaching her. Eva took refuge in a dark corner, and saw two archaeologists working on porting a cache of relics to the office of von Heïzinger. As they passed by her without seeing her, she realized that she was not the only one to feel something strange in this crypt.
"The sooner these excavations are completed, the better,” sighed one of the two archaeologists.
“You are right, said his colleague. This place leading me goose bumps ... and then, the team in west corridor has been saying all sorts weird stuff.”
“What kind of stuff?”
“It's been two days since they’ve seen three of their guys… They are asking questions… They speak of a curse…”
“Curse? You bet! They had managed to escape, that's it! If Zermann was not always on our backs…”
“Hush! You want him to hear you speak of desertion?”
When the two archaeologists walked far enough away, Eva continued her exploration. Without a sound, she went to the west, where these "disappearances" have occurred. A few minutes later, at the end of a corridor that ran on the right, the Investigator stopped again. She heard another conversation, but this time she knew the voices of those who spoke. Eva plated wall, approaching the corner slowly to take a quick look into the room. General von Heïzinger was there with his faithful Lieutenant. The scars of Zermann seemed to flicker more strongly than usual. Von Heïzinger looked at the room where they were, he was literally ecstatic.”
"So, Karl? You feel it don’t you?”
“Yes, General,” said the Lieutenant. “The feeling is even stronger then at Patmos!”
“All that power… The power… The ultimate weapon of our Empire, and finally in reach of my hand! I cannot stand the wait!”
“Patience, Herr, General. It is only a matter of hours now.”
“Yes, said von Heïzinger trying to regain his composure, you're right. He put his hand into his pocket and turned to his Lieutenant. Karl, when the pentacle is uncovered, I want all archaeologists evacuate the site. I do want to see anyone near the Cardinal Point.
“At your orders, Herr General, and what of the Investigator problem, she’s not going to just stand by when you discover the pentacle.”
“The Fräulein Krämer is no cause for concern,” said the Marquis. “Sure she knows what she’s supposed to do, but if she is as smart as they say, she will not disturb me. However if she were to interfere… You know what to do.”
“With pleasure,” Zermann said with an uncharacteristic smile.
When she heard these words, Eva could not help but cringe, and in doing so bumped a lamp at her feet, which toppled and broke. Immediately Zermann turned and ran towards the source of the noise. As he came into the hallway, he saw a figure running away. Furious, the Lieutenant went out of the crypt. Hermann von Heïzinger however, remained motionless and indifferent to what was happening around him, already imagining his victory against the rest of world, once the power of the Obscura Cardinal Point was in his hands.
Arriving at the chapel, Zermann saw no one but the soldier Herz, who immediately snapped to attention in front of him. The Lieutenant grunted before dealing with his adjutant.
"Herz, someone entered the crypt without permission. Why did you not warn me?”
“But, Lieutenant, I have seen no one come…” Herz became pale and trembling. “Are you sure?”
“Do not take me for a fool, Herz! I know there was someone in crypt! You know it!?”
“You don’t know!?” Mad with rage, Zermann gave a punch to the poor sergeant, who crumbled against the wall. This is the moment chosen by Eva to appear in the chapel.
“Bad day, it seems,” said the Investigator with a smile. “What did that poor soldier do wrong?”
“Do not play the innocent, Fräulein! This moron to let you into the crypt, contrary to the orders of General!”
“Come, Lieutenant Zermann, I would never disobey an order from an officer, let alone a General…”
Eva approached Zermann and whispered, “Please understand that I am accountable to the Field Marshall Komstfelder and the Kaiser himself, and nobody else. Is that clear?”
Eva turned and left the chapel. As she left she could feel Zermann’s black eyes burning into her back.
A little later in the evening, Eva was still thinking of the conversation she had overheard between the General and his Lieutenant. She wandered aimlessly in the castle, thinking about ways to neutralize von Heïzinger if things go too far. It seemed inevitable to the investigator; that she would sooner or later have to get rid of the General. Suddenly she saw Zermann rush to the office of General. The Lieutenant looked worried, and it’s not like him to worry. While Zermann was in von Heïzinger’s office; Eva took the opportunity and went down to the chapel.
There, the entrance to the crypt was not even guarded. The occasion was too good, and the Investigator plunged again in the catacombs of chateau. In the galleries, the atmosphere seemed more oppressive than before. Soon she arrived at a room where a group of archaeologists was assembled.
“What's going on here?”
When they heard Eva speak to them, it startled some scientists. Seeing the Investigator, they parted to make room. Then Eva saw a sight she would not soon forget. Three archaeologists lay against the wall of the gallery. More accurately they were now part of the wall, merged with the rock, like mummies trapped in the crypt. The look of terror etched forever on the faces, their large bulging eyes stared back at her. At the sight of this horror, Eva felt a cold sweat pouring along her back. All around her, archaeologists were increasingly agitated and frightened. Then the General’s voice sounded in the gallery as if it were thunder.
“So why did you stop working?” then the General noticed the presence of Eva. “Fräulein Krämer, you here too… What a surprise!”
“You have nothing to do with this here, dirty, nosy, spy! Go back to the castle at once!” said Karl in a booming voice. “If not…”
“Come, Karl,” von Heïzinger interrupted. “Now that our Investigator is here, she has to stay.”
“But, Herr General,” the Lieutenant began, divided between his anger against Eva and a misunderstanding of the Marquis’s attitude.
“Never mind, Karl, all is well.”
“Yes, Lieutenant, let me see what happens next,” Eva said in a mocking tone. “Because what happens here is most important, she added gravely.”
Zermann mumbled something, but was mostly silent. The General advanced towards the group of archaeologists, and examined the three new mummies imprisoned in stone. Eva stood motionless before the General, preferring to wait and see before taking any action. Moments later, the eyes of von Heïzinger returned to the scientists:
“Well… This is an unfortunate but these things happen,” the General said in a calm voice with no emotion. “We are here for one purpose; our mission. So just forget it and go back to your work.”
“No!” The man who spoke was the team leader of the archaeologists. His colleagues let him pass to face the General; he stared through his glasses at von Heïzinger with fierce determination.
“It was not a wish, Professor Schäfer it was an order,” the General said in a firm tone.
“Herr General, there is no question that we cannot continue to work here. Don’t you see what happened? Three men are dead! They are literally merged with the Rock! What do you think will happen if we continue our excavations? This place is cursed!”
“Come, Herr Professor, do not flee to your vulgar superstitions,” von Heïzinger replied, laughing. “Your colleagues have simply triggered a trap that was still fatal, that's all. If they were really competent, they would still alive.”
Another archaeologist, in turn, approached and stood next to Schäfer. He seemed very nervous, his fists clenched, his voice trembling, “I am Professor Zweiter, Herr General, and I knew these men personally,” said the archaeologist, visibly shocked by the words of von Heïzinger. “They worked in my team in the west. They were great professionals, extremely competent. I will not let…”
“You will not let me?” The voice of General became stronger. “Do you know who you are talking too? I am the Marquis General Hermann von Heïzinger, commander of the 13th Occult Division of the Obscura Korps! Remember who I am!”
“Nevertheless, Gen-er-al, Schäfer's right,” insisted Zweiter, “we cannot stay here! This place is dangerous! We will…”
“Two shots rang out. Zweiter never finished his sentence. He collapsed at almost the same time as Professor Schäfer. Zermann sheathed his weapon still smoking, amid cries of panic archaeologists. Lieutenant Zermann watched the Investigator with an air of challenge and blocked the only way to exit, forcing others to stay to watch his work. It was too much for Eva.
“General, how could you let this happen? This is intolerable!”
“You are right, Fräulein Krämer,” von Heïzinger replied with a smile, “It is intolerable to see that these men were calling for the abandonment of our mission. They were punished accordingly.”
“You are mad!” Eva could not believe her ears. “How can you say that?”
“I advise you to choose your word carefully Fräulein,” murmured the General in a breath so only she could hear his answer, “that is if you want to be here on my day of triumph.”
Eva was paralyzed. He directly threatened her, this time! Since she arrived at Ksiaz, the Investigator suspected that von Heïzinger had exceeded certain limits, but now when she looked at those cold and piercing eyes, she realized that the Marquis was definitely lost… von Heïzinger finally turned and spoke again to the archaeologists still petrified with fear before Zermann and the bodies of Schäfer and Zweiter.
“The work we do here will mark a turning point in world history,” began the General before the silent and terrified assembly, “we will not back down on the grounds that this unfortunate couple were too stupid to handle things! For the glory of the Reich, we shall go forward! For the Kaiser!”
Archaeologists came to attention you almost instantly, for fear Zermann would again punish any latecomers. The General smiled at the terror instilled by his Lieutenant before resuming his speech.
“If you care so much to leave this place,” he said in a mocking tone, “I want the pace of work to be doubled. The sooner we finish, the sooner you get to go home! But the next time I hear of desertion, I will leave the it to Lieutenant Zermann take his time with the protesters… Now, put a tarp over it,” he said, pointing to the three men entombed, “and return to your work!”
Some scientists cast a brief glance at the Lieutenant, and many shuddered at the idea of spending even more than a few brief moments alone with the dread Ozo. Now more frightened by the Lieutenant, than the cursed crypt of the castle, the archaeologists slowly dispersed to their work areas. Zermann left to monitor the team working in west corridor, while von Heïzinger went out of the crypts with Eva.
The General had not stopped smiling since the end of his speech, satisfied with having the archaeologists return to work with no other thoughts of rest or escape. For the Investigator the images: of the Cursed Crypt, the three men found mummified in the gallery, Schäfer and Zweiter coldly executed by Zermann, and the attitude of the General who mocked the fate of his own men, replayed over and over in her head. When they arrived at the chapel, the General and Eva parted company, but Eva could think of only one thing: it was imperative the she stop von Heïzinger.
Well I hope you all liked that, there are several more such pieces of fiction available in French, but after six day of translating and rewriting this piece, I’ll need a break.