Having been guests of the Courts of Chaos for the past month, the group undergoes shapeshifting “boot camp” to further hone their abilities. Upon graduation, each member is led to a cathedral-like building at the edge of the Great Abyss. There they meet Suhuy, Sage of the Logrus. Given their relative young age, Suhuy insists that they must experience the Logrus rather than being told about it beforehand.
Reluctantly, the group descends the staircase to a cavern where the Logrus has manifested a great labyrinth to test and empower its potential wielders. The maze is ever-changing. When Elinor attempts to mark a path, the mark replicates and moves in hundreds of different directions. The 100-foot-tall walls reach even higher if someone attempts to climb or fly over them.
As each individual steps within the walls, they are wrenched forcibly to one side and their means of egress is thus removed. Strange sensations plague their minds the farther they walk. Their bodies begin to distort and change. The females now discover they are male. Soon, the sensations pass the physical and mental capacity for tolerance and all becomes black.
Elinor, Jonathan Teatime, Gareth, Mr. Griffen, Clay, and Tuesday find themselves in Africa, Earth during the World War II era. However, they have manifested as Sergeant Johan Grimm, anthropologist Greggor Hachmut, Lieutenant Bernhard Begierde, Captain Kort Haubsucht, Lieutenant Soren Faulheight, and Lieutenant Rambert Missgunst, respectively. The group is tasked with the mission of recovering diamonds known to exist in the region for the purposes of financing the Fatherland’s war efforts.
At their disposal are a few meager tents, two weeks of rations, crude tools, explosives, a handful of vehicles, twelve soldiers (reduced to six by malaria), two dogs, and approximately twenty natives kept in a cage near the outskirts of the camp for use as slave labor. To their disservice, however, they are inappropriately dressed (in their Nazi garb) for the climate, they possess no medical training beyond basic first aid, and there are many potentially volatile interactions such as that between Begierde and Missgunst, the later blackmailing the former for his closeted homosexuality.
That evening, Sergeant Grimm is awoken by one of his soldiers. The natives have uncovered “something” 50 feet below in the mines beyond rational description: an ornate door filled with intricately carved gold. Of special interest is a golden symbol (the chaos symbol) larger than a man can extend his arms affixed to the center of the door thus sealing it. Grimm orders one of his men to awaken the captain and the anthropologist.
Captain Haubsucht proceeds to wake his second in command, Lieutenant Begierde, to accompany him below. Lieutenant Faulheight and Lieutenant Mussgunst are tasked with watching the natives above ground as they have become somewhat restless at the uncovering of something wholly unnatural.
As Grimm inspects the door more closely, he notes that the symbols carved therein appear to distort and move subtly. At that time, Greggor Hachmut arrives to begin his official examination of the find. He recommends widening the passage in order that the door might be removed whole thus preserving its value. It is at this time that he lays hands upon the structure and begins to violently seize and scream. As Hachmut is returned to the service for further “medical” evaluation, Lieutenant Begierde orders one of the natives to touch to the door as an experiment. The native refuses and attempts to escape, only to be shot by the Lieutenant for his disobedience.
Begierde threatens the remaining two natives if they do not comply with his wishes. They steadfastly refuse. Begierde then proceeds to threaten the mens’ families with torture and death should they continue their dissent. Reluctantly, they step forward and slowly place their hands upon the door—nothing happens. Sergeant Grimm is left in charge of the natives below as the Lieutenant makes his way to the surface to report his findings. A meeting is scheduled for the morning to discuss the situation.
Through some miscommunication, the Sergeant leaves his post during the night and one of the natives is found to have escaped. Furious, the Captain orders him and two of his soldiers to check the jungle while Lieutenant Begierde and two of the other soldiers are sent to check the village and eliminate the inhabitants if the man has managed to return there—it is possible if he did that the villagers may disperse to warn the nearby British of the Nazi encampment’s location.
Unsuccessful in retrieving the escapee, Sergeant Grimm fires a few shots into the jungle and returns with the story that he killed the native only to lose his body to crocodiles in the river. In the meantime, Lieutenant Begierde discovers the village to be empty save for a lone woman giving birth whom he promptly executes when she refuses to cooperate with his interrogation.
After hearing both stories, the Captain is suspicious of the Sergeant as it is somewhat apparent he has lied as to the fate of the escaped man. However, the pressing matter of unearthing the door takes precedence in his thoughts as he steps up excavation. He decides he would rather the British not get their hands on it thus authorizes the sergeant, who has demolitions experience, to blow off the seal. During this process, the sergeant accidentally touches the door and reacts similarly to the anthropologist.
Furious, Captain Haubsucht throws some of the natives into the door but is frustrated when there is no further reaction. He learns that when the natives touch the door they feel as though they have lost their souls. They are even shunned among their own people. He decides to use this as a threat of punishment should they refuse to cooperate.
After the site is prepared, explosives are set off around the seal and it is then pried from the door via force. During the resulting rush of air, the captain and anthropologist feel something “run” past them, though nothing is noticeable when their vision clears. More natives are then brought down to bring up chunks of precious metal from the door and any artifacts found inside. A few are also tasked with standing between the party and any traps that may lay inside the tomb.
Lieutenant Faulheight enters first with a lone native in front for protection. He almost immediately begins to fumble at his belt for his knife, intent on slitting his wrists by all accounts of Lieutenant Begierde, who is able to stop him from doing so before he has done any life-threatening damage. Around this time the entire group begins to become aware “voices” in their heads. In Begierde’s case, he suspects Faulheight of mental instability in a manner that goes beyond the attempt at suicide.
As Faulheight regains coherence, he discovers a dagger in the center of the chamber coated with black stains surrounding a similarly stained robe and skeletal remains of a creature that is not quite human. The metal of the blade looks in some ways like brass but doesn’t fully correspond to any known material. It is then that he notes the fluid appears to be burning his hand like acid. Abandoning the weapon to examine the remains, the skeleton appears to belong to a being ten feet in height with eight eyes as a spider. Every bone appears broken and hollow. A necklace is also found made of unknown material as the before-mentioned dagger.
On the surface, the natives finish bringing up chunks of precious metal and some of the artifacts from below. Additionally, Lieutenant Begierde instructed one of the soldiers to inform the captain of Faulheight’s mental instability. Hauchmut uses this opportunity to suggest that the mineshaft be blown and thus sealed with all individuals below trapped as they have all obviously been affected mentally by the air or some unknown pathogen within.
After issuing the order to carry our Hauchmut’s suggestion, the soldiers revolt as their loyalty was with their sergeant and not the captain. They drop the dynamite to the bottom of the shaft and open fire on the group above as the natives flee for their lives. Below, Begierde apologizes for suspecting Faulheight of mental instability (despite the voice-in-his-head’s protestations) and works out a plan to thwart his superior’s plan.
Hauchmut, Missgunst, and Captain Haubsucht split up to avoid the fire from the soldiers. Haubsucht hides behind a truck while the others flee into the jungle. The voices instruct Hauchmut to attack the captain and he complies with a volley of rocks. After an unsuccessful attempt to shoot his attacker, the captain is rendered unconscious. As the soldiers pursue Hauchmut into the underbrush, Faulheight essentially reveals himself as the traitor by shooting the captain in the head.
Faulheight instructs the soldiers to load the goods on their trucks and flee as he plans to blow up the mineshaft. Reluctantly, Begierde agrees even though his friend has just been murdered in front of him. As the captain was seemingly the one who betrayed the group, he feels that the sergeant and his soldiers did not deserve the punishment he would normally be required to hand out for their actions. As he ponders this, Begierde is shot in the head by Missgunst but then misses Faulheight who dives for cover successfully.
In the confusion, Faulheight detonates the dynamite in the mineshaft and simultaneously detonates explosives hidden in the very truck in which the sergeant and soldiers attempt to escape. Faulheight then disappears into the jungle only to be pursued by the ghosts of those fallen thus far. Faulheight’s role as traitor is then further explained as his employment by British intelligence is revealed. Enraged, Missgunst emerges from his hiding place intent on killing Faulheight but instead is killed himself by the faux Lieutenant. Faulheight’s comrades show themselves at this point and knock him out, unsure of his identity.
The group is transported back into the labyrinthine infinity of the Logrus, but Tuesday finds she is not alone. A young man sits beside her, Jonathan Teatime, who claims to be her son via a union with the Logrus itself. Unwilling to accept this, the two are locked in circular argument.
Thus ends the session of Quicksilver Shadows for 2011-04-16.