Episode 21 - UNTERSBERG!


          Liebenfels and I passed the evening enjoying the hospitality of Lambech and its erudite, well traveled Father Hagn and, making good time on the following day, skirted Mozart's city of Salzburg before turning westward (and upward) at Hallein. Late in the afternoon, we reached a tiny village on an Alpine promontory where shops and houses above us seemed to veritably hug the summits rising westwards.

          "We shall have to proceed the rest of the way on foot," the Cistercian declared, "...if you feel up for a walk?"

          "Yes," I'd replied, "...I'm inspired! The air here... like biting into one of those Viennese pastries!"

          "You have reminded me," Lanz chuckled, "there's nothing to eat up the Jagdhaus... in fact, all the way between this village and Berchtesgaden over Untersberg there..." he pointed, "...unless your palate runs to a wild sheep. We'd better try this grocer's."

          The small shop served, also, as a bakery whose wares brought smiles to our faces as Lanz scooped up bread and eggs and wine and I marveled at a barrel of enormous crayfish.

          "In heroic times, I've heard the master used to hold bacchanalias in these mountains where wines were buried in runic patterns for the celebrants to dig up, thus to edify their minds as their tongues. Blindness has made an ascetic of von List... but it is all part of the plan of the ancient gods; everything in these mountains is symbolic, Arthur... do you see these rolls?"

          He smiled at the bakery mistress, favoring her with a few words after which she placed a tray on the counter...

          "What a heroic past is baked into Aryan bread. This little fellow.." and Lanz pointed to a breakfast roll, "is die Wecken, that which is below..."

          And the hand of the monk brushed my groin... I started and Lanz rewarded me with a soft smile...

          "Politics and history... distant as the so-called dark ages of Saxon liberty, usurped by Charlemagne, are also memorialized in bread. Croissants, found all over France, are the horns of the moon which we condemn as devil's food, even to this day. Here is a five pointed roll, for the pentagram is the Stelle-Vehm or Truthenfuss... even the humble pretzel derives from sexual conjunction... bretze, to bear and tze, to make. Once it was holy... sex food that preceded the making of warriors but, now..."

          "Only a snack?"

          "But we are to correct that, no?"

          At the little village, upon my guide's recommendation, I also purchased a rucksack and a pair of sturdy boots, suitable for climbing mountains. The Jagdhaus... in German, a sort of hunters' lodge usually owned in common by societies... was at an elevation of twelve hundred meters, snow of about three inches' depth crunching as we made our final ascent. Here Untersberg was visible... if Hartmann was to be believed there were caves in the vicinity of its summit, one of which was the entrance to the subterranean world of the gnomes.

          To go down in this world, one must, at times, go up.

          The Jagdhaus was untenanted... I gathered wood and Lanz built a roaring fire before which we sat, talking, smoking, finishing our meal. By midnight we were surrounded by empty bottles, crumbs and eggshells.

          "When I am a master," said the monk, "I shall be perfectly ascetic too but, in the spring of life, it is well enough to eat and to drink, to fight for the honor of the Red Courts, to learn and promote the truth."

          "Which means becoming vegetarian is a way station upon the path to selflessness?" I'd asked, "...I understand but why, then, is an egg permissible? Is not a bird also alive?"

          "They live," said Liebenfels, "but the Red Path does not so much mortify the spirit as potentiate it. The egg is life's essence concentrated, also pure... why Master List contends that fowl, no less than animals and men, are capable of sin, and of redemption. By consuming elementals... fruits, eggs, seed... one's palate never shall be crossed by sins that follow birth. And Guido is above all in knowing such things."

          "Then do you believe," I asked, "that no other above Guido von List exists in all of Austria and Germany... maybe the world..."

          "Here... no..." the Cistercian replied, after a short deliberation, "there are the men of finance who support him, but recognize his superiority, as that of Haushofer who is coequal in the Oberworld as we are of the Unter... but one does stand above all. I have not head the pleasure of meeting him, and it may be no pleasure to do so without ritual preparation. He is the Fuhrer Tarnhari, the hidden lord who, in turn, is the emissary of Starke von Oben, the strong one from above..."

          "They are what you said... the lords justice?..."

          "Oberstulherren..." translated Lanz...

          "... of the Holy Vehm? In New York one hears of Illuminants but not always so kindly... some of our Founding Fathers were regarded as such but I am afraid the term has more recently become associated with the followers of Marx..."

          "Marx," scoffed Lanz, "was only a borrower from Hegel, who was a reduction of Nietzsche."

          "I have heard that name..." I replied, "he is evidently disliked by quite a few old men in London."

          "Reason for you to learn better German in order to form an opinion for yourself."

          "Well, what I have heard is that he's a madman... worse, that his condition is the consequence of a life of loathsome vice."

          "Ask your old men of London about loathsome diseases," Lanz answered harshly. "There is a secret garden in every soul... and some of its blooms are poison to an unwary insect. Nietzsche is no ranter, rather an enchanter... he has walked with the Starke von Oben... so has no more need to commune with inferior souls. He has taken his dagger to the veil of Socratic condescension, rending it to reveal the Dionysian chaos beneath."

          "Speaking of daggers," I suggested, "wasn't the Holy Vehm known for leaving its dagger in the hearts of the accused?"

          "The Stuhlherr's Dag!" Liebenfels answered, and with a surprising quickness, "...but only if they become fugitives, children of the noose... elsewise it is left by the tree of their hanging or approximate to any other instrument of judgment. Sometimes, rarely, one is... was, I say... broken on the wheel, crushed by stones... can we admit, though, that this was any more cruel than forcing a criminal to languish in prison? There are many currents in this world... some virtuous but many more duplicitous... existing for their own gain or, worse, the degradation of Aryans. Even Nietzsche had a fatal failing that left him at disadvantage in the presence of the Starke von Oben... he was far too forgiving of the Jews. Jews financed Adam Weishaupt's heresy a century and a quarter ago, specifically through Mendelssohn and the Rothschild family whose tool, the Ishmaelite Alexander Hamilton, was providentially liquidated by your patriot, Burr. Even further back, Jews killed not only Frauja-Cristos but Hiram, the true architect of Solomon's temple! What an example they set for covetous Frankish kings and rotten popes to set Knightly Orders against one another... the Crusades failed for corruption with Arab Adepts. Look to Russia!"

          "Why?" I shuddered. "It is a cold place and desolate, of little importance..."

          "Such places are often where great troubles begin. Madame Blavatsky's cousin Witte, an intriguer with persons associated with French Martinism... who pretend friendship with God's chosen Inquisitors... keeps Marxism in check through secret alliance with the Black Hundreds. These fanatics, who would bring back the days of such Castrators as surface every few centuries, are, in turn, pinioned only by a madman whose power over the Czar derives from a dispensation of Tarnhari that may be justice itself, or the enlistment of an ancient wickedness to provoke a rising of right-thinking fellows. And you believe your mission to be the finding of a little old lady of Ulm! You should think of Russia... the Russians do not pass a night without thinking of you!"

          With that there was no other recourse save sleep... a sleep of such profundity that today I still entertain my suspicions about my companion and his wine. My dreams were of horrible aspect... I rode as a Grail Knight guiding his horse through a forest of hanged men... looked into the eyes of monsters... until the morning sun scourged my brow and I woke in a sweat despite the mountain chill.

          "Liebenfels?" I called. "Brother Lanz..."

          There was no reply; the Jagdhaus was quite empty. Pulling on clothes and boots I wandered through it, crunching eggshells, munching a cold penis-pastry... presuming the Cistercian to have departed, perhaps to find wood for a fire over which we could boil coffee. Suddenly there came a thump on the doorstep and I opened the door... no man waited there, only a bale of straw in which a dagger had been implanted.

          I pulled it from its rest... it was of Vehmic origin... a brother to the first two, although curiously smudged with black.

          "Noose... stone..." I recited to myself, "grass..."

          Something within the straw gave a mechanical click.

          And in that moment I understood... without giving the matter further thought I vaulted over the bale, thrashing through knee-deep snow. Thirty meters from the door came the explosion which tossed me ten meters further towards Untersberg, the front of the Jagdhaus disappeared in a cloud of flying sticks and the rest began burning fiercely. A length of charred wood bounced off my shoulder, a few coals sizzled on my back... I brushed these off and promptly spied three figures approaching on skis... men whom I briefly thought must be from the village fire brigade until relieved of illusion by a rifle shot and bullet whizzing by my ear, a winter's hornet.

          So I began to run or, rather, flounder through the snow... my pursuers reached the remains of the Jagdhaus, circling its still-blazing wreckage. Abruptly, yet another figure appeared out of a hollow perpendicular to the riflemen, crossing my path with a wave and a shout...

          It was Aleister Crowley!

          Crowley braked to a stop, sending a spray of snow into my eyes. "Those fellows mean business!" he pointed. "Hop on back! Hurry!"

          A bullet striking the tree behind which I had intended to hide convinced me of my lack of alternatives so I mounted the skis of the British occultist; grasping Crowley round the waist as he dug his poles into the snow with powerful shoulders and skiied off towards Untersberg with a ferocious cry.

          "What are you doing here?" I demanded to know.

          "Why I was headed down to Sicily to look at some property and thought I'd do a spot of climbing on my way." My landlord glanced over his shoulder at our three pursuers. "Lucky for you that I did! Look out..."

          The three skiers behind them had been joined by two ahead of us, one firing wildly as he approached.

          "Hold on!" my landlord warned.

          Crowley swerved sharply, evading the bullets of his inexpert pursuers, one of whom I now recognized as Viereck. The Frater of the Skull, cutting us off, raised his rifle but Crowley knocked him over with a pole, catching his rifle as it sailed through the air and, with it, drilling the second antagonist through the heart.

          "Excitable fellow," Crowley allowed "...did you know he is considered a poet of promise. He's written verse about sex in the balloons of Baden where this Count, a favorite of the Kaiser, has been constructing them flattened out... rather like a cigar. Huge devices with this gondola beneath, our pripapic boy took one up for a spin with an Englishwoman quite without the Count's permission."

          We'd crossed down out of the forest into a treeless plain where an occasional shot was fired by our three pursuers. In the distance I saw railroad tracks winding round Untersberg and sensed inspiration near at hand... near as the prospect of death. Crowley, however, had commenced singing... a ditty inspired by Viereck's poetry...

          "We heard St. Peter's violin," he chortled, "for Heaven's Gate drew near us there! We rode upon the zeppelin, that strong- ribbed dolphin of the air..."

          "They are shooting at us..." I protested.

          "I said Viereck was promising, not that he was equal to myself." And Crowley twisted his head back to face our pursuers. "Sorry!"

          "I don't think they care... and they are gaining! I think they might be Russians," I felt compelled to add, "...Lanz said something about Blavatsky and her cousin..."

          "It may be a bad time to say so," Crowley declared, his words thrown back against me with the wind, "but what Mathers and I assumed to be the German order was actually chartered in Petersburg. If you can believe so, they obtained their charter from a Negro who used to advise your Mister John Brown and President Lincoln... another representative tutored by the Secret Chiefs!"

          "And who are they?"

          "Cameron," my landlord replied pityingly, "...the Secret Chiefs are, above all, secret!"

          "Tell it to them," I said as another wild shot kicked up a puff of snow before us, "... not to me!"

          "Don't worry," scoffed Frater Perdurabo, "... all Germans are miserable shots, clumsy oafs! I had to rescue Kellner from Baphomet a number of times, the bloody novice couldn't even cleanly kill a tethered goat or cat, kept breaking the magic circle to retrieve his screaming, bleeding beasts..."

          "Watch out!" I cried and Crowley swerved to barely avoid a tree. Our three pursuers had gained considerably when, feeling a lump at my hip, I recalled that I had pocketed there my gift from the Italian Imagnifico... Marinetti's grenade. How it had failed to go off in the heat and the shock of the Jagdhaus explosion quite escapes me... I thought it certainly defective, but also reckoned the mere sight of it might slow down the Vehmgericht on our tail.

          "See what I have for you!" I cried, waving the grenade in my left hand then, pulling the plug, hurled it back at the marksman. As I had anticipated, the sight of it caused them to dig in their heels and swerve but, as it fell some ten meters short, it exploded with a vehemence somewhat less than that of the bale of "grein"... but with force sufficient to cause one to tumble in a heap whilst the others in detouring... one left, the other to our right... lost all of that ground they had made up, and more besides.

          Just then I also observed a train on the tracks chugging away from its station towards us and, looking beyond the station, the little village in Paget's basement came back to me in its entirety..

          "Crowley, that is the train from Berchtesgaden... make for those tracks..."

          "We sought the secrets of the ninth order together but Reuss kept imploring me to join this or that useless German cult... what did you say?"

          "The train! They'll overtake us otherwise, we're too heavy!"

          "Sometimes you do have a good idea," Crowley admitted, "...for an American."

          "See where the tracks curve towards the pass of Untersberg? The train will have to slow and I can jump on. With luck it will be going all the way to Berlin."

          "About those Secret Chiefs Cameron... I can say that they were tutors of Rosenkreuz in the fourteenth century... a Greek, a Hindu and a Copt. Be sure to look up Haeckel for me there!"

          "I will... coming up, now, here!"

          I fell, rather than leaped from Crowley's back, rolling in the snow. Rising, I flailed through drifts towards the track anticipating, all the while, a bullet in the back. As the great engine braked to take the curve I jumped and snatched a rail between two passenger cars. Relieved of my weight, Crowley sped off with the quickness of a hare, a final bullet pinged off the railway car above my head and then the engine gained more speed coming out of its turn, leaving my two remaining pursuers behind.

          Well enough! My gloves had been blown to bits with the rest of the Jagdhaus and my hands were nearly frozen to the rail... I breathed upon them, pulled myself upright, then stepped into a coach of the second class, but one with sleeping compartments. Halfway down I spied a cabin only partly occupied and entered, nodding to an evasive-looking, balding fellow with a pointed goatee and a dignified old gentleman in the company of a young lady I found myself hoping to be a daughter, not his mistress. I rewarded the both of them with warm smiles and asked "What is the destination of this train?"

          The goateed man drew a newspaper across his face with unbidden contempt... its characters were Cyrillic-Russian, not German. The others looked at one another, trading short German phrases so I tried pointing and sign language, for my dictionary had also been exploded.

          "Berlin?" I asked.

          "Ja..." the man pointed forward, "Berlin!"

          So it was the Prussian capital I was bound towards after all!


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