Spirits of Forgetfulness

Playlist: Don't you Forget About Me - Simple Minds

Andhakasura , Spirit of Forgetfulness

Kailasantha Temple, Caves of Ellora, India, 18:30 14th October 1940

As the swirling red spirits' faces transformed into hideous masks of hate, a wave of distress and horror swept the expedition. The agents of Section M faced their dread down, but half of the Grenadiers were put out of action as their minds folded under the strain of confronting the impossible. Some fled, some screamed and cried and some simply collapsed. Suebedar Joshi was one of them; he stopped moving, and remained frozen, staring at Birapeer with bulging eyes. The Sikh gestured at the Grenadiers in the officer's general area and yelled "Protect the Suebadar!" Four men moved towards him immediately.


Kirpan

Not pausing, Birapeer drew his kirpan, took two steps left and slashed savagely at the nearest drifting form. The silvered blade sliced through a crimson limb, and while the blade's reflections were dimly visible from inside and the being's face twisted in discomfort and annoyance, it didn't seem to damage it especially. As he did this, he noticed Joshi making a slash attack with his service bayonet in a disturbingly close mimicry of his own movement - without effect, of course.

Behind him, Anné dropped l'Etranger to the stones of the floor and swung the Arclite rifle off her shoulder. Taking aim across the cavern, she squeezed the trigger and a bolt of actinic electricity arced across to tear completely through one of the attackers and smash chips from the stone behind. This did hurt, evidently; her victim threw its' head back and shrieked in that weird, elephantine voice.


Silver Phurba

To her left, Joe lifted his Bren gun, a sinking feeling already creeping over him. For some reason, he found himself humming the song from the puppet show, and defiantly he began to sing it at the top of his officer's lungs. Then he levelled the weapon and fired a burst, feeling little surprise as it passed straight through his target and battered into the carved wall of the temple. Slinging the gun back over his shoulder, he drew the silver phurba from his belt and braced himself to be attacked, gradually realizing that none of the creatures was actually coming towards him. Was it the song? He wasn't sure...

By now a shattering fusilade of gunfire was being unleashed by the Grenadiers, to absolutely no avail as the bullets passed harmlessly through the red spirits. The flashes and noise were mind-boggling.

Cyril had already concluded that the mystic daggers were the only likely means of attacking these foes, and stabbed with his, failing to connect. Behind him, Jimmy fired his next-to-last Arclite charge and missed with that as well.

Francoise turned and charged down the steps past the elephant statue and towards the exit, where two forms had emerged from the wall and were bearing down on a hapless Grenadier. Her swipe with her own phurba tore a ragged hole in a red figure, but the two flanked her and the one behind her lashed out with its' clawed hands, connecting with her body. Instantly, she felt a terrible draining suction against the very core of who and what she was, leaching something from her mind - memories! A moment later she was stumbling backward, bewildered. From her perspective, one moment she'd been preparing for the mission in Bombay; the next she was standing in a dark cave full of confusion, gunfire, screaming and shouting - and huge red monsters drifting through walls. Her mind reeled as she tried to reconcile the discontinutity of losing a day's memories.


The Fight in the Kailasantha Temple - click it for larger image!

Birapeer raised his voice once more "Grenadiers! Withdraw from the cave! Take the wounded" - the best overall description to include the insane as well - "with you!" Several of the men - including the two Joshi had posted at the entrance - took his order to heart and headed - or fled - out. Birapeer then forged ahead, desperate to reach and save the Indian Army officer. He stabbed venomously with his kirpan, and this time his shastaar vidaya move was correctly made. The blade ripped into the drifting form in a blaze of silver light, and the spirit dissolved into red particles and was gone. Once again, his mind knocked off its' axis, Joshi replicated what Birapeer did, stabbing his bayonet futilely into the spirit attacking him. Several Grenadiers were now screaming as the monsters closed on them and began draining their memories, and the two Francoise was fighting nailed her again. For a moment, she had a clear memory of herself playing cricket in Dehli, a week ago - then she collapsed, her mental energies completely drained. Losing interest in her, the two creatures drifted off towards someone else.

Joe and Birapeer continued to fight, the Sikh now singing Tansen's song as well, and both realized that the spirits were avoiding them and seeking other targets. "Sing!" both of them bellowed, "sing the damn song!" Their fellow agents recognized what they were doing and took up the chorus; the Grenadiers had never heard the song, and in the utter bedlam of the cave were unable to hear it clearly enough to learn it now. Cyril gasped as a red spirit siezed him, and several hours memories vanished, leaving him weakened and disorientated. He broke into song and the thing began to drift away; with a cry of "Banana!" he stabbed it in the back. It accelerated in its efforts to get away from him. A thought struck him and abruptly he ran from the group towards the stairs to the colonnaded gallery.


The group of survivors gathered, plus Cyril (green) sprints for the columns - click it for larger image!

As Joe and Birapeer started gathering the survivors into one group with a core of singing agents, a rifle bullet from one of the Grenadiers sang past the tanker's ear to smack into another of the Indian troops. Gasping in agony, the man was easy prey, and a red spirit latched onto him. A moment later he went down hard. In the centre of the group, Jimmy took out his camera and began photographing the scene, the bursts of light from his flash only adding to the chaos.

Angling herself, Anné managed to line up both Francoise's late foes with the Arclite and send a blast of lightning through both. One dissipated and the other screamed and backed off. She sprinted forward to stand over the sprawled form of her fellow Frenchwoman, singing defiantly at the circling spirits.

By now, Birapeer and Joe had gathered all those still on their feet and had them moving towards the exit, slashing at any spirits that came too close and cutting down those that didn't get away. Jimmy fired his last Arclite charge, blasting a hole in one of their foes, then - his weapon discharged - resumed taking photographs. The group was within sight of the entrance when Cyril reached the columns supporting the gallery area, and realized that - like the ones described in Erlichmann's notes - they were perforated like musical instruments. He considered blowing air through the holes, but sagged as he realized the number of possible combinations there must be. Instead, acting on instinct, he rang his silver phurba sharply against the column. A clear, shining, silvery note resonated through the entire temple, cutting through the mayhem like a blade - and all the remaining red spirits erupted into mist and were gone.

As the group recovered their breath, they took stock of the situation. Of the fourteen Grenadiers, only six were still operational. Two were comatose from memory drain; another two had fled out of the caves and away into the night in blind panic. Two appeared either catatonic or rooted in terror, and one was screaming in hysterics and tearing at his eyes. The last was, like Marcus, racked with hallucinations. Joshi himself had recovered from his episode and had reclaimed command.

Francoise had been brought round with some first aid, but had lost the memories of the last week and was listless and psychically exhausted. Anné declared that she seemed to have been 'drained of le Frenchness," and suggested a slice of Brie might help - though where in British India she was going to find one remained the question.


Indian Bow

Elephant Goad

With the casualties settled, the survivors searched the temple. The scattered people they had noticed on first entering (two Indian women in red saris and four suited Western men) were now all deeply unconcious. The women were each equipped with a short bow and arrows and an ankus or elephant goad; the men had Wehrmacht ID as privates as well as a little cash, and either a PPK pistol or an MP38 submachine gun. All were disarmed and secured, and Grenadiers assigned to watch them.

At the far south-western corner of the temple, they discovered that a carved panel depicting Shiva and Parvarti on Mount Kailash had pivoted open between its two pillars, which were carved with figures of Nandi the Bull with a (loose) ball in his mouth. Experimentation discovered that moving this ball was enough to move the door. After wedging it and checking their light sources, the group ventured inside.

Through the doorway, a set of steps ventured down into the darkness; they were not steeply cut and showed very little sign of wear. The further the investigators traveled down the steps, which twisted and turned back on themselves, the brighter the passageway became until, by the time they reached another doorway, the torches were unnecessary.

This new portal led into the upper level of a semicircular chamber. The light in the room appeared to be coming from a collection of burnished metal discs set into the ceiling in constellation- like patterns , instantly recognizable as the strange skies above Kyung Ri.

More steps were cut into the rock, leading down to a platform against the far wall of the cave. The rest of the room had been carved into terraced seating, like an ancient auditorium or lecture theatre. On the platform below was, at this distance, what appeared to be a stone table or altar of some sort, on which stood nine brass lamps. Behind the table, the chamber’s rear wall was covered with a massive version of the relief that adorned the secret doorway above.

Examining the table further revealed that under each of the lamps was a carved gem, similar to those on the pillars in the upper Temple. A splash of water, poured onto one of the gems, trickled away around the edge of it and into the altar, signifying that there was a joint at the edge. Daringly, Cyril pressed one hard and it sank an inch or so into the block with a firm clunk. After a moment's consideration, the group pressed the remainder and with a loud noise, a panel on the side of the altar slid open, revealing a hidden alcove within.

Inside the alcove wa a carved box made of sandalwood approximately 3.5ft in length. Inside the box was an object Set in a shaped indent in a beautifully woven piece of what must have been, at one time in the distant past, pure white silk that had now yellowed with age. Set into it was a strange looking object that appeared at first glance to look like a very early form of hand-held grenade launcher: the Agneya Weapon of Flame.

The weapon’s stock seemed to be made of colourless glass or polished rock crystal, engraved with swirling lines that closely resembled tongues of fire. Approximately half way along its length, just before it joined to the weapon’s barrel, the stock curved slightly so that, overall, the shape was very like that of a swimming fish, complete with tail fin at the lower end. The barrel itself was made of an all-too-familiar red metal - orichalcum; proof in itself that the thing was of Atlantean origin. It had been cast into the shape of a horse’s head, with a stiff and spiky mane and wide, glaring eyes made from rubies. Where there should have been a mouth there were only protrusions that could have been more flames, but could also have been flattened tentacles. Jammed firmly inside the horse’s “mouth” was a large golden crystal. At some point in its history, there had obviously been another component attached to the side of the barrel and stock, roughly where one would expect there to be some sort of trigger mechanism. However, whatever was there originally had been partially smashed off and, as Cyril was be able to identify, the remainder had been corroded by some sort of strong acid. Whatever this weapon might have done once, it did not look as if it was in any condition to be fired now.

Their thoughts went back to the singing puppets and their consensus that this weapon was too dangerous for any mortal to own. While the idea of it being given to some god was clearly preposterous, it was a good analogy for what had clearly happened - it had been taken from the hands of mortals.


Back in the main temple, the group turned their attention to the prisoners. Some were awake, but interrogation proved largely useless, as all had lost weeks or months of memory and had no real idea why they were there. The women were Brides of Durga, and proud of it - disdainful of men, and of Europeans, full of Nationalist buzzphrases and rhetoric. The men were German soldiers, and knew they were assigned to a Nachtwölfe unit and a special mission but had no memory of what it was to be. Birapeer tried to shock them into revealing more by telling them that the war was long over but to no avail.


Indrajit Joshi

The women were passed to Suebadar Joshi to take back to Dehli for trial, but the Germans were quietly dispatched and the bodies hidden in the secret passage. Anné and Joe also rigged a booby trap in the stairwell with five pounds of explosives - more than enough to bring down the roof. Then Cyril closed the secret door, and the expedition covered its' tracks as best it could.

Anné and Francoise equipped themselves with the bows, and after some practice - and sneering from the previous owners - managed to get a working knowledge of their use. With the wounded and brain-burned being assisted, the group headed back towards the road, Joe and Anné scouting ahead.

Aurangabad - Ellora Road, India, 20:32 14th October 1940

As the group approached the road, something about what they were seeing triggered alarms in Joe and Anné, and they signalled the expedition to stop before cautiously creeping forward. Sure enough, the six men that had been left behind were nowhere to be seen; the trucks seemed to be surrounded by a number of women in red saris and men in dark suits with MP38s. Joe grinned, and reached for his Bren gun...

Session Date: 11th September 2018