Playlist: Voices Inside My Head - the Police
Keeper Note: With the Black Influence of Shub-Niggurath sweeping across the country abducting our bogrolls, this may be the last session for quite some time.

Furthest Temple, Peru, Thursday 10th April 1941 10:33

Disconsolately, the team considered their options. Some suggested that, if time was looping for the Germans as it had for them, they might be able to wait for the Nachtwölfe expedition to "come back". This seemed unlikely, though, as none of the loops had extended this far forwards - and they had stopped after the cycle had been broken.

None the less, it seemed sensible to sort out as much as possible, and so the team settled in to complete their survey of the temple for a further two days. Marcus and Cyril sketched, photographed and noted everything they could, and took some samples here and there, while the others rested and scouted around for anything that might have been missed.

For the duration, the porters insisted on camping over the ridge, outside the valley, which they swore was maldito - cursed.

The Gate Inscription

A major part of their focus was, of course, the slowly fading circles of the Gate matrix. After painstakingly documenting it, they decided to try actually touching it for the first time. Joe extended a hand and gently laid it on the centre of the design.

A faint ripple of stronger luminescence surrounded the contact point, and after a moment he realized there was a slight warmth against his chest - his Blauer Krystall amulet was glowing gently. He turned to look at Cyril, standing just behind him. "What?" he said. Cyril looked puzzled. "I didn't say anything," he protested. Joe frowned. He could have sworn someone had whispered something.

Cyril reached into his bag and dug out an object; it was the orichalum paperweight, originally discovered by Gregory Snickers in Gregoretti's house. He handed it to Joe who hefted it, then softly placed it against the centre of the design. A distinct crackle of electric blue energy surroounded the spot, and the runes around it brightened slightly. This time, both heard the whispering; a sussurus of vocalizations, coming from no discernable direction, in no language either knew or even could recognize. After about ten heartbeats, they faded away.

"Seems like there's some link between this metal and those crystals," said Charlie thoughtfully. "Maybe the one is somehow made out of t'other?"

Cyril took the paperweight back, and gripped it before walloping it hard into the centre of the circles; Joe winced. The effects were more pronounced this time, though basically similar. He then dug deeper into his bag and unpacked the kathak prayer scarf given to him by Tsering Llama. Draping this over his head, he repeated the test. He heard nothing, though Joe and Charlie said that they did. "Interesting," he said. Driven by memories, the team gathered and brewed tea, drinking it from the personal tea bowls gifted them by the apprentice Dawa Rabten. Not only did the scarves seem to suppress the whispering, but the act of communally relaxing with tea - while also very British - spread a relaxed and positive feeling across them. The tea wasn't quite the same, as Yak butter wasn't available in Peru; nobody was complaining about that.

Furthest Temple, Peru, Sunday 13th April 1941 09:03

During the days of surveying, they had moved their camp around to the back of the temple and set a watch on the path over the ridge, ready in case time-displaced Germans - or anyone else! - came down into the valley. On the Sunday morning, Joe and Anné were on watch when they heard the sounds of someone approaching. Concentrating, they judged it to be two people, one each side of the track, moving quietly with considerable skill. Setting themselves to cover the approach, they scoured the area with binoculars, waiting. Finally, one of the approaching people moved briefly through a clearing. Anné gulped audibly. She was looking at herself...

As they watched, a second Anné and Joe worked down the trail, scouting ahead just as they had done four days before. Exactly as they had done. They were clearly watching themselves repeat the entry into the valley. Behind, they could now see the rest of the expedition following up, including the unfortunate Húaman. Joe had an irrational urge to yell a warning to him. Instead, he broke cover and walked to place himself directly in Anné's path. When she walked through him without blinking, he was more than a bit shaken. As if at some signal, the past party faded away like smoke and were gone.

Johan Werher

Having had a few days to recuperate, their prisoner had recovered a little, enough that he seemed to register their presence though he still wasn't making a great deal of sense. With Joe translating and the others suggesting questions, they tried once more to interrogate him as to what had happened. His responses were garbled and jumbled. "The Sorceress," "Had to retrieve it before it was ... lost ..." "They went over the Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge - to Valhalla, ahahahahaha!" None of it made a lot of sense, though some inklings began to come to the team.

That night, each of them was racked by nightmares again. These, though were different. Instead of bloody death by knife, they experienced sustained and deeply disturbing whispering, along with flashes of blue. For Joe and Charlie, these were especially bad, with Cyril suffering nearly as much. Some correlation between the dreams and the person's degree of proximity to the blue crystals appeared to be possible.

Joe went back to the Gate and purposefully triggered the effect, attempting to actively communicate back to the voices, to no avail.

Furthest Temple, Peru, Monday 14th April 1941 08:03

The next morning, Anné repeated the taking of tea from her bowl, and resolved to begin each day likewise from then on. As the camp packed up, several of the team noticed that the porters were not their usual selves. All of them looked tired, and they seemed very reluctant to have more to do with the team than absolutely necessary. Their air of sulkiness, suspicion and hostility seemed to grow as the day went on.

Reflejo de Yuyay, Peru, Wednesday 16th April 1941 15:16

As the expedition trudged through the outer fields of Reflejo, the villagers stopped their work in the fields briely to wave greetings, and the children ran around laughing and singing. It seemed nice to be welcomed somewhere for a change. Tolopec, the village curandero, stepped out of his hut to greet them, and soon tales were being exchanged.

Tolopec explained that his "herbal remedies" had helped the "sad doctor" quite a lot, and he would be ready to travel. He shook his head. "He has done some terrible things," he said. "He may never be right again."

The Mask of Mitawai, the Mirror of Viracocha

Dr Etzel Hauer

Hauer was indeed rather recovered, but in returning from his delusions had been forced to confront what he had done. On being questioned, he confessed sadly to his actions; on discovering that the Mask could be activated by being annointed with blood, he had stumbled on its ability to transcend time. There was only one thing Hauer really wanted at this point, and that was to be with his lost wife and daughter. With the Mirror, he could ... for a short time.

He quickly discovered that animal blood was not sufficient, and that sacrifices made with the knife he had found with the mask increased the efficacy of the results. Each time he killed, he knew it was wrong, but each time his loss and desire dragged him back to use the relic again. Charlie gulped; he really had had a close escape.

The porter Carlos, sent back to Reflejo with Haur and not witness to the events at the Furthest Temple, was a study in contrasts; his attitude to the team was the same as it had ever been, and his cooperation placed him de facto in Húaman's old place as leader of the porters.

El Purgatorio

The Pyramids of Túcume, Peru, Friday 18th April 1941 16:10

Four days later, they team was back at the Túcume site. They intended to repeat their experience in climbing the central hill, though the porters were not keen. Marcus faked laying a spell around their camp; "Don't leave the circle, or it will be bad for you," he said portentously. It would, too; they'd get shouted at if they were still there and not paid if they weren't. "If they run away," Joe muttered, "I'll kill them all." Cyril glanced at him; this was a bit extreme, even for Joe.

The ascent of El Purgatorio proved to be equally challenging the second time. Three-quarters of the way up, Charlie slipped and fell. After last time, the group was securely roped together; but Anné, next in line, was caught by surprise and pulled after him before she could react. Next along the rope, Joe swore and braced his boots against the rock, locking his legs. It felt as if gasometer had been attached to the rope, but with enormous effort, he arrested their fall, allowing the pair to get holds and resume the climb.

As the sun rose once more over the ruins, the team felt the same flood of warming, positive energy flow over them. All felt refreshed and renewed. Dr Hauer, meanwhile, wept openly, cathartically, the abcess of his mental agony lanced if not healed. Johann seemed less afected than any; as his personality reassembled itself, he was reverting to the battlehardened soldier he had been before.

Estate of Monsieur Landau, North of Chiclayo, Peru, Sunday 20th April 1941, 13:02

Faramund Armbruster

On return to the Landau estate, the team had gratefully accepted the first taste of civilization for a very long time. Hot baths, clean clothes, aperitifs and then dinner were most welcome.

What was less welcome was the renewed company of Faramund Armbruster, the American archaeologist and probable grave robber. He'd clearly been waiting for them to return, and spent the dinner attempting to 'pump' them for details of where they'd been and what they'd found.

First Marcus attempted to bore him with archaelogical minutae, which didn't really come off as he was actually interested - his knowledge and experience in the field not faked. Then Joe asked him off the top of his head, "Do you speak Old Norse?" Armbruster blinked. "I don't; but I can't see why you'd want that in this part of the world." Joe waved a hand nonchalantly, "Oh, we found some writings in it here," he said casually. Armbruster's eyes lit up with curiosity. "Do tell," he said leadingly. "No," said Joe flatly, "I don't trust you."

For a dinner-table conversation, this was a shocking display of bad manners, and Armbruster immediately turned away - which was the objective. However, he then started trying to wheedle and smooth-talk Anné into telling him more. While the French sniper was unpersuaded, she couldn't help but notice that this was the nearest she had come to being treated as a woman of interest since her terrible scarring. As the man continued to soft-soap her, Joe quietly made the Voorish Sign and looked around, then at Armbruster.

The results were interesting. As usual, he was able to see the metapsychic flows of human interaction, in this case the ebb and flow of conversation and empathy across a dining table. He'd seen far worse things with it. The guests from the estate - Morales the manager and a few others - contrasted noticeably with Joe's own companions. Each was tainted or damaged to some extent, and it served as an illustration of how much each had been through in the last year. Armbruster was also interesting. Slightly to Joe's disappointment, he didn't turn out to be an evil mastermind or a squirming monstrosity in disguise. His very human emotions conveyed a focussed, precise man with very defined objectives and a strong determination to achieve them. Nothing was there to show his moral compass, and Joe let the spell drop.

He and the others began to regale him with tales of monsters and strangenesses, while providing no detail or locations and absolutely no reference to undercover intelligence work. He was clearly getting more and more frustrated, though he sharpened up when Cyril described the ghostly conquistadores they'd encountered upcountry, near Reflejo de Yuyay. Too late, Cyril realized he'd given a clue as to where they'd been.

Estate of Monsieur Landau, North of Chiclayo, Peru, Monday 21st April 1941, 09:35

The next morning, Armbruster was gone. Enquiries revealed that he had hired porters and animals, then set out at dawn along the route towards Reflejo de Yuyay. Worse, it seemed he'd been to visit Dr Hauer the night before after dinner. The men set to guard the prisoners had been told to keep them from escaping, but not to forbid them visitors. Hauer himself had been pleased to have a visitor, especially one who spoke such good German, and had talked freely about his experiences to the sympathetic and attentive Armbruster. He did mention that he'd forgotten to tell Armbruster that the Mirror had been taken from its' hiding place. Relishing their imagining of the American's disappointment, the team set out for Lima.

British Consulate, Lima

Roderick Dennis, British Consul

Landau's cars made short work of the journey - this time with no bizarre time shifts - and a few days later the team were back at the British Consulate.

Consul Dennis was also quite curious as to their doings, but unlike Armbruster was polite enough not to push the matter when they declined to go into details. He provided the facilities to send an enciphered telegram, and brought them up to speed with events.

"There've been two dodgy-looking characters poking around," he observed. "Spent some time watching the Consulate, and asking all sorts of questions. I haven't the resources or the local clout to pull them in, but I had them followed. Seems they were staying at the German Embassy. Four days ago, they headed off towards Chiclayo - I'm surprised you didn't run into them, actually. Descriptons? Yes, got them here somewhere. Both Europeans. One was a great hulking, scarred, stupid-looking bruiser." Anné interrupted him. "Was the other one a sallow little weasel?" she asked. Dennis' eyebrows rose. "Why, yes," he said in surprise, "Spanish looking or something, small and cunning." The team exchanged glances. Weisemann and G had crossed their trails again.

"Agents of the bally enemy?" asled Dennis. "Yes," said Joe, "can you keep an eye on them?" Dennis nodded. "Of course, old boy."

"Why have they come here, when both Nachtwölfe and Black Sun have already sent a team?" asked Joe, when they were alone. "Who are they working for? And are they after the Artifact - or us?"

Lima, Peru, Saturday 25th April 1941, 12:54

The telegram that returned from Clemens Park, once decrypted, wasn't the ticking-off they'd half expected for their failure. Instead, they were directed to return to England as surreptitiously as possible. If they could be got to one of a list of places by a certain date, they could catch the HX Trans-Atlantic Convoy to Liverpool.

Dennis piped up; he'd done some research and identified a small freighter, el Conpino, that was due to sail for Bermuda in three days. Berths were reserved; it would take 5 days to reach Bermuda and join the convoy, then another 6 to reach Liverpool.

The intervening days were spent tucked away in the consulate, out of sight.

Lima, Peru, Monday 28th April 1941, 12:54

Convoy HX-188

The el Conpino was a much smaller ship than the tanker Portero del Llano - which had sailed out of Lima the moment the team were off - and rather cleaner. The waters between Lima and Bermuda were still fairly peaceful, and the first leg of the trip was uneventful. On the third of May, the team woke to find themselves in the midst of an incredible array of vessels.

HMS Esperance Bay. Later that same month, she was to play a small role (significant to those whose lives she saved) in the sinking of the Bismark.

Bermuda, Sunday 3rd May 1941, 15:24

More than thirty merchant vessels of widely varying sizes were scattered to the horizon, spread out under the care of four warships; the armed merchant cruiser HMS Esperance Bay, the Canadian destroyer HMCS Saquenay and HMS Fowey and Sandwich, Escort-class sloops. El Conpino slipped into the formation and joined the convoy as it headed out to the North Atlantic Ocean.

The tension was palpable. The wolfpacks of the North Atlantic were in their glory at this time, and only the logic of a flock of ducks stood between these ships and oblivion; the chance that whoever got sunk, it wasn't going to be you. The warships prowled the permiter of the convoy, and each ship had double watches constantly scanning the waters for signs of the dreaded U-Boats.

The MV Italia

When it came, however, there was no warning. An explosion boomed a mile or so away, and the MV Erik Boye, carrying grain from the fertile fields of Iowa, began to list alarmingly, lifeboats pulling away. Battle Stations sounded, and every man on every ship not involved in something important was instantly perched or placed somewhere he could see the sea, scanning the water for the tell-tale bubble trail of another "tinfish". Terror ran up and down every spine, for survival in the water was unlikely at best even if one survived the sinking of the ship. Minutes stretched, but nothing else happened; the U-Boat appeared to have made its' getaway. As the Erik Boye slid below the waves, the men were stood down.

It was two more days before they came back, and everyone in the convoy was wakened by a cataclysmic roar, an explosion beyond description. Reaching the deck, the ship was lit up as if by daylight in a lurid red-orange glow as the MV Italia, a tanker loaded with aviation spirit, burned. There were no survivors.

Two days later, they reached Liverpool with great relief.

Session Date: 10th March 2020