Last week, we got all the players together for our next Hollow Earth Expedition adventure. We picked up with the group having arrived in London after their Africa adventure (see The White Apes of the Congo) — set up for a few days at the Ritz in Piccadilly, the characters set about trying to find out anything they could about the strange artifact from the city of the white apes, Mangala, at the British Library. Gustav Hassenfeldt, their big game hunter/guide, worked with Uncle Trevor doing research on others that encountered strange creatures like his “giant bat” at the Royal Geographical Society. His connections to the hunting world served him well and he is waiting for a vote to see him inducted as a friend of the RGS.
Lady “Zara” and Dr. Gould found a few references to the “Eye of Shambala” in the works of Sir Francis Younghusband during his expedition to Lhasa in 1904, as well as the memoirs of a German climber in 1920, the latter mentioned in the ramblings of Thule Society founder Rudolph von Sebbotendorf. This last claimed the Eye had been moved to protect it from the British in 1904; it was hidden in a cave under the northernmost chapel of the Potala Palace, and this was confirmed by the climber’s tale. Sebbotendorf has recenty escaped the Nazis, after having been jailed for claiming his Thule Society was the real power behind Hitler’s rise to power. The fuhrer, it seems, has not sense of humor…
Gus heard about a mountain climber and hunter named Munro Kinnie who claimed to have shot a “flying dinosaur” in Venezuela. He is currently in Montreux, Switzerland skiing and planning a run on the Eiger in spring. Sebbotendorf in also, supposedly, in the Lausanne area. They start working on trying to get funding for an expedition, andare contacted by Younghusand, who has invited them to dinner.
They learn from the old spy that he is the chair for the Himalaya Exploration Committee of the RGS, and after a long dinner, he offers to support their mission with a grant from the RGS of £100, matched by his own funds. With a loan of £200 from her ex-husband, they have enough to outfit and fly to Tibet, with a stop in Switzerland to talk to Kinnie. He has also arranged for Uncle Trevor’s grant to return to the Congo and find his apes, once more.
In Switzerland, the team is staying at the Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne. They go to Montreux and quickly find Kinnie at one of the ski lodges, getting drunk and taking a break from the slopes. Gus and Gould are able to convince him of their sincerity in asking about the dinosaur — he had found it on a tepui in Venezuela, and lost the catch due to the weak limbs of his bearers, who dropped the damned thing while they were scaling down the side of the mountain. The natives claim strange beasts have been sighted on the “Devil’s Mountain” — a tepui perpetually shrouded in mist. No pilot in the area is stupid enough to take on the mission to the top.
The party split, with Zara and Gould heading into town to drink and relax; Gus tries his hand at skiing, but not before being approached by a Dr. Albert Heiser — an archeologist and historian working at the University of Berlin, and a member of the Thule Society; and a George Werner, who if pressed, works for the Office of the Deputy Reichfuhrer. (Himmler, himself!?!) They offer to fund Gustav to find the Eye first for the Germans. They learned of their mission through some friends in the British Union of Fascists, and they also mention Sebottendorf (who they have learned escaped to Turkey), at one point. They believe the Eye is the product of the ancient Aryans — the Thule — and may hold the clue to the location of Ultima Thule, their ancient city (and Nordic knockoff of Atlantis.)
He politely refuses and Heiser is very understanding — he respects a man of integrity and loyalty. Werner, however, may not, as on his way down the slopes, Gus is attacked by a pair of thugs on skis, leading to a chase and fight with ski poles, and a jump off the side of a high cliff onto a sharp bank of snow. After returning to their chalet and informing them of what happened, the group rushes back to Lausanne to find their hotel suite ransacked and their Sikorsky S-36 sabotaged! They desperately get the plane fixed as the sun is going down and race off to Istanbul, to find Sebottendorf.
The chase for the Eye of Shambala is on!