Hela, Queen of Niflheim, has a wicked temper.
One particularly icy fit of rage blew through Her frozen realm of Hel on the night of August 31, 2011, when my psychic sleuthing opened a box of secrets no living person is supposed to know. I’d been on Her trail for weeks without realizing it, as I struggled to complete my magnum opus of all things Apocalyptic. Since this world-altering work requires me to reprogram the entire Matrix, that especially includes hidden occult dimensions between Norse religion and the Third Reich. My latest fiddlings with this mythic machine had apparently triggered major alarm bells down in Niflheim.
Desperate for some sage advice on how to handle me, the Goddess of Death summoned our mutual acquaintance, the ancient dwarf Eitri.
“Send in the Naziguls,” advised the blacksmith to the gods. “Your only hope lay in driving him insane. No direct attack will prove successful, as he has Providential Grace straight from the All Seeing-Eye.”
“Which SS division would you recommend we use?” Hela asked.
“All of them, Your Majesty,” Eitri replied with a laugh. “Begin with an occult expert from the Black Grail Knights- someone expendable, as I expect he will be destroyed. But the effort should reveal potential weaknesses for the Brutes to exploit.”
“Will they fail also?”
“Yes. I know this wizard well. The only way the Brutes might succeed is if they can escalate his emotions into meltdown, but his marriage is probably too strong for that to happen. Again, the real point will just be to find cracks in his psychic armor.”
“Then, Your Majesty, will be the time to send in one of the Nine. I know this is not the preferred choice, but it shall be necessary- mark my words.”
The Queen of Niflheim sat in grim silence for a moment...
...and then stood menacingly.
“Oblivion stalks the Apocalypse Prophet,” Hela declared as an astral raven landed on Her shoulder. She held me in mind and blew a Kiss of Death, declaring a bounty on my soul which the bird carried through the frozen wastes of the Hollow Earth, towards SS headquarters, where agents of darkness are always eager for new assignments.
I first learned about the Nazi Shadowverse from the ghost of Hitler’s architect, Albert Speer, with whom I became friends in 2003.
“The whole idea was sheer insanity, even by Hitler’s standards,” Speer said, “a mad scheme to prevent the Reich from losing the war by stopping Time itself. A few of us felt that the risks of such an unprecedented gamble were far too great. Really, no one had any idea what the actual consequences would be. We tried to sabotage the project, but in the end, the SS managed to go through with it.”
“What do you mean? Obviously, time did not stop in 1945.”
“How can you be so sure, as long as from your vantage point it started up again?”
He had me there. Speer seemed to become more philosophical as he explained.
“It began with the dwarves- as is always the case. In 1937 the publication of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien caught the attention of Himmler’s occult division. They were looking for ways to fulfill the Aryan movement. Wagner’s operas brought the old ways back to new life, restoring Germany to our true national religion. Hitler’s role as Fuhrer was to be a messianic incarnation of Odin/Wotan, the lightning-wielding Furor whose legions would once again overrun the West. But there was one important thing missing, an essential endorsement Hitler required if he was ever to truly make the transition from mortal Fuhrer to immortal Furor. He needed at least one dwarf. But the true, magical dwarves had long ago vanished. No one knew how to summon them.”
“And this is where The Hobbit comes into play? How?”
“The names used by Professor Tolkien for his dwarves were not just pulled from thin air,” Speer replied. “They come from a list said to be given to ancient Icelandic wizards thousands of years ago by Odin himself. This and other elements of the tale proved that if anyone could figure out how to contact dwarves, it would be this mysterious Oxford don with a talent for deciphering long-forgotten secrets encrypted in dead languages. And so the SS dispatched agents to spy on Tolkien. Do you know about the Inklings?”
“Yes,” I said. “They were a group of Oxford intellectuals, including Tolkien and C.S Lewis, who would meet in pubs and read aloud their latest works, critiquing one another long into the night.”
“And there was an SS man in the background of every public Inklings meeting from 1938-1941,” Speer revealed dramatically, “eavesdropping on what the Professor was then orating: The Fellowship of the Ring. The chapter entitled ‘The Shadow of the Past’ proved to be of peculiar interest.”
“That’s where the history of Sauron is told,” I interjected.
“Yes. What could be called the ‘Mordor model’ crystallized several things in Himmler’s twisted mind, sowing the seeds for an ultimate horror. Tolkien’s description of the limbo where Sauron’s spirit holds the undead Nazgul in thrall was the key. He clearly saw how the Fuhrer’s will functioned the same way relative to the SS. It’s all quite ironic, actually. I have since read scholarly discourse supposing that Tolkien based Sauron on Hitler, with the similarity between Nazis and Nazgul seeming to confirm the theory. In reality, as far as influence goes, the reverse was true. Himmler convinced Hitler that the type of dark immortality the Nazgul possessed could indeed belong to the SS. Thus with the help of another Tolkien fanatic in the SS paranormal division, Hans Kammler, the Shadowverse project was undertaken, ostensibly as an option of last resort. They sold the idea to Hitler on the premise that, if all else failed, they could provide not only an escape, but a place from which to plan a return, just as Sauron used the dark dimension of the Ring. You see Kammler convinced everyone the Ring was not a band of metal, but rather a vibration of ultimate power that merely required some method of channeling. This led to the creation of what was called Die Glocke, the Bell whose Ring would signal doom.”
“I know. They are all wrong. The Bell was a vortex engine whose hypersonic ringing rent the fabric of Time asunder, opening a crack into a dimension that I simply call the Isle of the Departed. It was in fact the sound of Hitler’s voice, amplified into a metaphysical shriek by the Bell, that gave birth to the Shadowverse, making the Furur of our Fuhrer the sole force holding time at bay. Thus the very air of the dark dimension blows his thoughts like wind across the wasteland. Just like Mordor, the Nazi Hollow Earth is the mind of its master, and the denizens who dwell there are but extensions of his will. But despite the eternal tragedy of its nature, the loyal SS fled into this limbo on Hitler’s last birthday, as the Red Army closed in and the war was finally acknowledged to be lost.”
“How did it work, exactly?”
“Kammler rang the Bell at a prearranged time- just after dusk on April 20, 1945. Those who were part of the project, which after last minute defections totaled three dozen top officers, all wore special electromagnetic wristwatches tuned to the Bell’s output. At the moment of Doom, they all went sideways into the Shadowverse, becoming a legion of undead Naziguls in thrall to The Thing That Was Hitler.”
“It is a parallel dimension physically frozen during the Ring, a ghost world where the war never ends, forever preserving the final birthday of the Fuhrer.”
“And these Naziguls have survived until now? How?”
“For the first forty years or so, they simply converted the lives of those frozen with them on the Isle of the Departed. The world population was then around 2 billion. To exist as undead, they need to digest the energy of the living. So in the beginning each SS fiend would need to drain the lifeforce from one person each day. But as linear time continues on this side of the veil, the energy requirements to sustain the Shadowverse grow exponentially. This was of course something they did not count on. After a decade, the daily requirements had jumped to ten people a day per Nazigul. Thus they realized that under these conditions the stock of living bodies from the frozen 1945 would have run out by the 1990s. But then they were saved when The Gul That Was Goebbels realized that the telepathic infection of Nazi ideology could be used to darken the souls of living stooges from the real world into the Shadowverse. Hypnotic propaganda projected into the minds of vulnerable youth became the focus. This has been extremely successful thanks to skillful exploitation of the Middle East conflict. Those who believe the Protocols of Zion in any form are now on the path to Mordor.”
“Then sadly, there are plenty of fools to keep the Guls going for a while,” I said with resignation. This was, after all, 2003- a time when our lame conspiracy culture was producing the biggest crop of candidates for Shadowverse manipulation the world has yet seen. Too many otherwise smart and well-intentioned people were falling for the Protocols. This was the height of popularity for transparently recycled versions of the Mein Kampf narrative, “the Jews” just having been replaced with “the Masonic Illuminati” for today’s post-9/11 audience. In our collective consciousness, the image of the zombie has made a major resurgence as a result of this phenomenon. Just ask the angry members of the 99%, whose rantings often mysteriously gravitate towards hatred for “the elite bankers” (code for “Illuminati Jews”).
When the first Nazigul started creeping around my castle in the early days of September 2011, it did not take me long to detect his surveillance. Doctor Speer had prepared me well. He’d advised me to always, always, always be wary when falling asleep. It is within the hypnogogic twilight that we are most vulnerable to subtle telepathic insertions, flashcards that can run dream programs designed to darken one’s soul towards the Shadowverse. Therefore I police my preconscious membrane rigorously and instantly saw when this cretin started trying to mindfuck me.
I didn’t react, however. Instead I let him dangle his bait, inspecting the lures without biting, frustrating the Gul until he started making impatient mistakes. In an effort to seduce me, he gave away too much. My own psychic powers were weaker than his, but not when I applied tricks like reverse telepathy. You want to read my mind, friend? Well, come on in. Let me show you something.
Within a week I’d done this dream dance enough to call him out consciously from within the safety of my Big Cosmic Room. This is a special zone of the mansion, my place of power wherein the holodeck arch is always on hand. I mocked my stalker, denouncing everything he stood for, even going so far as to piss on a picture of the Fuhrer. That did the trick. Suddenly the confines of my wizardly cave fell away, and for the first time, I saw the Shadowverse.
The house where I live existed in 1945, so the room itself retained form around me as everything darkened and a chilling breeze carrying Hitler’s voice began to howl. Out of this shadowy whirlwind the Nazigul came, a tall figure wearing black Teutonic spook garb, his red eyes burning with hatred.
Then I began to laugh, a long joyful outburst that acted as a counterweight, the sounds of happiness turning into a soft light radiating the sights of my Big Cosmic Room. The main feature of the place is a multitude of mirrors of all shapes and sizes, set in a variety of angles, creating a web of interlocking reflections. Out of this mirrored maze, summoned by my laughter, came my gnome. He zipped through the scene, copying himself endlessly in the reflected surfaces, his every move a trigger for even more merriment. It quickly became a furious feedback of fun that acted as toxic gas on the Nazigul, who fell to the floor with a sickening thud, the Shadowverse blowing away as he hit the hardwood. My legion of gnomes swarmed around the writhing wraith, tearing him into hundreds of pieces, sending each slice of his soul into a different reflective depth.
He’s still there (the poor bastard) being driven more insane every hour that he remains trapped in my maze. And I have no intention of letting him go as long as my gnomes can bleed him telepathically, then deliver the harvested clues to me via wonderfully helpful synchronicities.
Now of course, the Brutes tried to rescue their SS brother, triggering round two in the Gul Wars. This group of low level Guls were strictly muscle. Whereas my prisoner had spent his days in the SS sipping wine in mountaintop castles deciphering dusty manuscripts, his would-be rescuers had ridden out the war on the front, organizing mass killings of Jews and other acts of terror designed for population control of occupied territory. Thus their tactics were much clumsier, but in many ways more effective. Any moment of transitory impishness would be seized upon and escalated in petty emotional ways, hoping to force a breaking point. Literally, stubbing my toe one morning while getting out of bed led me down a dangerous path that could have ended with me dead by that evening. Random third parties on the street found themselves sock puppets shoved into my way, hoping for any excuse to start something ugly. Dark fantasies and suicidal urges were constantly placed in my peripheral psychic space, with no relief, for weeks on end. Meanwhile, my Big Cosmic Room was under relentless attack as well, as legions of Nazi leprechauns laid siege upon my gnomes.
These battles were epic in their own diminutive way, and in the end our magickal defenses proved impregnable. Everything came to a head on Halloween night, when I was finally forced to call in all my Providential favors to exterminate the Brutes with the full power of the All-seeing Eye. How exactly I did this will remain a mystery, for now. All you need to know is that I have more faith in my personal God than the Naziguls have in The Thing That Was Hitler.
Eitri was busy carving a new dwarf into being when Hela visited him in Nidavellir following my All Hallow’s Eve victory.
“It went as you predicted,” the Goddess of Death hissed. “Which of the cursed Nine should I send to finish this job?”
“There is only one that I would recommend,” the dwarf replied. “You have to assume that your enemy is on the verge now of discovering everything- even those secrets you yourself do not yet possess. This will be the last chance for your cause. If he makes it through to the point of complete Revelation, the game is up.”
“I know that!” Hela raged.
“Then you know who you must send,” Eitri said dismissively as he returned to his work.
The final Nazigul played his hand very carefully, studying me for weeks, making no effort to hide his presence. He continued to use the ploys of his predecessors, leaving impish bear traps around the preconscious membrane of my world and then watching me intently whenever I set one off. Like the first Gul, this one also tried to invade my dreams; but instead of clumsily banging around in my psyche, he merely set up a hunter’s perch and waited, lurking over every dream I had, gathering data patiently.
Christmas was when his first major strike came and the scale of the assault left no room for doubt as to the seriousness of my situation. Real physical threat came into the equation as a “freak accident” involving the town gas lines almost resulted in my entire block going up in flames. A string of “random” events lined up perfectly in subsequent weeks to divert me at every turn, all executed with a new mocking intensity that I found increasingly unnerving. I knew that such a big show of force was costing the Nazigul heavily, which meant that his chi coin reserves were far greater than I had originally assumed. This was an entirely new “next level” of the game.
The only hope for me now hinged on identifying the Gul. I needed an angle of attack, anything that would bolster my game by giving me some trump cards to play with. It would have to be dealt with before I could complete my work in peace. So for the past several weeks unmasking him has been a top priority. I got caught up in frustrations, I must admit, as I tried to shield my mind from his probes. In vain I sought out Zen-like methods for preventing flash card propositions, increasing my mental discipline, yet still he managed to slip his traps into my sacred space.
But then it hit me- why fight when you can’t win? Last week, I tried a new tack. I sat down once again to continue writing my magnum opus, which is now so close to completion that the suspense is killing me by inches. I focused on that frustration, conjuring a mood of despair, throwing a mock temper tantrum at my feigned writer’s block. Sure enough, the Nazigul came creeping up to me, feeding on my angst and reaching out for my head with that inky black glove whose fingers always end in petty emotional temptations. The tentacles touched my brain, starting to massage some dark thoughts into being.
I screamed with ecstasy, performing a psychic aikido move that left my attacker pinned against the press of my joy. With one more numinous shout I forced his shadowy helmet aside, revealing at last the man this wraith had been...
“Doctor Mengele, I presume!”
Yes my friends, the “Angel of Death” himself, Josef Mengele, stared back at me with his handsome 1945 face. He shrieked with frustration and fled, a trail of chi coins spilling after him in the Shadowverse. My gnomes pursued, gathering them up in his wake.
The next day I went to the library and cashed in this treasure, as synchronicity threw three key books on Mengele my way. The most important Providential offering, the one that literally leapt off the shelf at me, was entitled In Our Hearts, We Were Giants, the tale of a dwarf family kept by the Angel of Death in his human zoo at Auschwitz. Apparently there was a very important- previously missed by me- connection between Mengele and dwarves...
“Well done,” Eitri said to me. “Now you have it all.”
“Do I, old friend?”
“Yes,” he replied, then proceeded to tell me of Hela’s vendetta, and why he betrayed Her to help my cause. But these and other secrets will only be revealed when my complete opus hits the web…very soon.
Meanwhile, please remember: Police your psyche, because Mordor is always only one dark step away.