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  • Judgement Day

    Dr. Richtofen's Office, Griffin Castle, near Werfen, Salzburg, Austria

    Dr. Edward Richtofen

    May 29th, 1943


    His mind soothed by a Liszt composition, Doctor Richtofen reviewed his agenda for the week, his legs propped up on his desk and a legal pad resting in his lap. With each line crossed out on the page and each passing note in the playing record’s symphonies, Edward’s mind drifted to a calmer place than this frigid mountain. Today’s schedule only called for one more task: The bi-monthly meeting of the minds in Richtofen’s splinter sect of Group 935. Progress has been wunderbar since Maxis left for Berlin, so Edward predicted the meeting to be a pleasant get-together.


    Though, the morning had been hectic: Spoiled by a series of shipments arriving from Verrückt , the asylum facility, which demanded menial inventory-checking and clipboard-signing. For a time he directed the flow of the cargo as it arrived via the gondola piecemeal, however, this grew tiresome and Richtofen entrusted Doctor Wagner to finish the job.


    Richtofen needed time to simply think about something outside of his work for a change. In just the past five minutes he had thought about his favorite musicians, the last book he had read, and his own mortality. The subject of mortality came up often in Edward’s wandering thoughts, and he had yet to come to any definitive conclusions.


    His gaze wandered to the ticking Kit-Cat Klock, an item he imported from America, mesmerized by its inviting eyes as they strayed left and right again and again. This continued for a time, until the eyes flicked left once more, then stopped completely. Its dangling tail sat completely still as the ticking stopped.


    Richtofen tossed his legs to the floor, standing and stretching his arms before approaching the clock. Through the utter silence, the voices began to creep into his conscious mind.


    Why do you waste your time like this, Edward? The time your kind has to exist is infinitesimal, yet you occupy yourself with the demands of the weak.


    A chill flowed up Richtofen’s spine, destroying the calm reprieve he had just created for himself. He stepped back, away from the clock, speaking into the void.


    “I’ve already told you, Maxis und his petty friends must believe that I am still loyal to the cause, still determined to win this war. My work must continue to be under Group 935 in order to have the resources to help you... my Lord… ” He hated calling them that.


    “It is imperative you remember your one and only purpose to us, Edward: To open the gateway and release us from our imprisonment! We have waited a long, long time for The One who would free us from our eternal suffering beneath creation. You have been chosen, and as it was written long ago, you will not fail us.”


    Though his mind had been numbed to the volume and intensity of the voices, the effect of their ever-present nature had not been dampened by time. The knowledge that they would always be watching and listening twisted Edward’s thoughts.


    “I see… I only wish I understood more about you since we are working together so closely… I know you are not the Vril-Ya, not quite. You are… something else entirely.”


    Your kind have known us by many names. Our earned title, given to us by our enemies eons before your creation, is ‘Apothicon.’ There is still much for you to do in your mortal form, but with time, you will come to understand us intimately.”


    “I eagerly await my Ascension… in due time.”


    “Indeed. Only through your forthcoming trials will the path ahead be revealed. You will be hearing from us again, Edward, very soon.”


    The voices released their grasp on Richtofen’s mind, allowing him to breathe and collect his thoughts. Recently, they had warned him of tests, or trials, which would allow him to prove himself worthy to their cause. Though Edward feared these ‘Apothicons,’ they promised great power in exchange for their freedom. He could do nothing else but trust them to keep their word.


    Richtofen searched his desk for a letter left in his mailbox a week beforehand: A letter from the Illuminati. Though he willfully ignored their calls to rejoin, they would continue to leave cryptic messages everywhere he went, seemingly toying with Edward in times of stress. The most recent letter warned that the Americans were eyeing Richtofen very closely, but to what end, it did not specify. They signed off on the letter referring to Edward as their “faithful servant” once again. Despite his disdain for the Illuminati, Edward agreed that there may be agents of the Allies within Group 935, closer than he had previously thought.


    So many seemed to be watching Richtofen’s every move: The Illuminati, the Allies, Doctor Maxis, and the Apothicon voices in his head. All the while, he had to constantly shake the two wandering children trailing close behind him at all times: Samantha and Doctor Wagner. His trust in Doctor Wagner was growing day by day, however, and he could feel nothing but appreciation for the efforts that Wagner had made in caring for Samantha while Richtofen focused his mind on more important affairs.


    Edward recalled a situation several weeks before: When the monthly letter from Ludvig arrived for Samantha. It contained a message written by her mother just before her death. Edward took the liberty of screening the message: The rambling, incoherent words of a woman on her deathbed, vowing to shield Samantha from harm forever. Such promises are harmful to a child; Nothing is truly forever, and it is no surprise Maxis would show no care in allowing Samantha to read it. The image she must have of Hilda in her memories should not be sullied by the fleeting, muddled thoughts of a dying mind. Edward only wished he could be spared from the last memories of his own mother. Thankfully, Doctor Wagner was there to hastily dispose of the message before Samantha had arrived to read her father’s letter. Perhaps a time will come when he too should know the truth about Eagle’s Nest and the plans Richtofen had at Griffin Station.


    Richtofen removed the novelty clock from the wall, setting it aside to fix later, before embarking towards the hallway outside his office. He paced past the recreated paintings of the castle adorning the halls of the offices and living quarters, before taking note of the time on the clock by the washrooms: He was a minute late.


    Hands behind his back, Richtofen sauntered up a set of wooden stairs into a stony room that had become a makeshift lab. Across from a row of computer systems was a wooden door leading into the meeting room. He adjusted the tie on his uniform, before swiftly opening the door, raising his arms into the air and smiling as his associates stared blankly back at him.


    “Gentlemen! Thank you so much for waiting! I’ve really been quite busy with all the administrative blah , blah , und the financial hoopla … I won’t bore you with the details but everything is looking quite positive for a change! Und how have you all been?”


    From left to right at the aged, wooden round table were four men within Richtofen’s close circle of allies, Doctor Groph of Griffin Station, Doctor Okitsu of the Rising Sun Facility, Doctor Lehto of Der Riese , and Herr Meier of the Jungle Facility; None of them had any response to Richtofen’s question.


    Edward looked to each of them consecutively, fishing for a response, “Anybody? No one wants to chat a little before we get down to business? No? Very well.”


    Edward pulled out a wooden chair, scraping it across the floor before dramatically sitting down and adjusting himself at an unreasonable volume.


    “Now then, if we are skipping the exchanging of pleasantries, we shall start with you, Doctor Lehto. What new information have you acquired about Maxis’ little secret project? Do we have a location yet?”


    Doctor Lehto coughed, looking to the table rather than to Edward, muttering, “Well, Doctor Richtofen, there has been a slight- “


    Richtofen cut him off, lifting his palm towards Lehto’s face as he looked into the air, “Wait! Don’t tell me… I’m predicting you have nothing, as usual. Not that locating a man’s whereabouts in a city such as Berlin is a simple task, but it isn’t exactly Herculean, either.”


    Lehto, frustrated, now focused his gaze towards Richtofen’s, “If you would allow me to collect my thoughts, Doctor, you would be pleased to hear the good news.”


    “Pleased? I would be delighted to hear good news. Carry on, I am listening.”


    To the left, Groph was smirking, clearly amused by Lehto’s treatment. Lehto offered a raised eyebrow and a disapproving sneer back. Between them, Okitsu stared blankly towards the wall to Richtofen’s rear. Meier listened intently, daring not to cross Richtofen after their prior engagements.


    Lehto continued, “Reichstag security around the city has become far tighter as the Allies have begun pushing back. Security personnel at Der Riese say orders have come in from the Reichstag to be far more wary of spies. As such our agents have had a more difficult time searching the city for potential locations. However, they have heard rumors from Reichstag security forces in the city via radio transmissions. The word ‘ Kino ’ keeps recurring in their conversations. I am uncertain if this is simply a codename for the site, or perhaps an indication the site may be near a theater. Regardless, it is a clue towards the facility we are searching for.”


    Richtofen pursed his lips, thinking over Lehto’s discovery, replying, “Very interesting, Doctor. I recall sometime before Maxis’ departure there was mention of a project called Faust . The name brought to mind the film of the same name. If the two are related, this Kino Facility may be the location of Doctor Maxis’ Vril experiments.”


    Lehto appeared visibly confused, “ Vril ? I was under the impression Doctor Maxis’ primary purpose in Berlin was creating the undead army the Reichstag seeks. I have heard of no such ‘Vril’ experiments there.”


    Groph pounded the table, leaning forward and frightening Okitsu from his daze, “Of course you have not! Maxis must have abandoned the experiments; A man like him would have no idea what to do with such power, unlike Doctor Richtofen!”


    Richtofen smiled, motioning Groph to return to his seat, “I’m flattered. Doctor Lehto, I want your agents to keep at it until we find this theater. It should be their top priority, regardless of their other orders.”


    Lehto replied, “I will see to it.”


    Wunderbar ! Now, Doctor Groph, while I have you good und riled up, do you have an update on the MPD’s status?”


    Groph straightened his posture, pulling a manila folder from his jacket, and looking over data as he spoke, “Yes, Doctor. Unfortunately, the news is not quite as positive, however, it will serve as a lesson in our future endeavors; Not quite a failure, but an unforeseen complication. On July 20th, 1942, we harvested the ethereal energy of twenty-six subjects from Küstenposten, completely filling the glass tank Schuster and I discovered. I later discovered three more tanks, which we promptly filled with more energy. Power levels from the pyramid immediately spiked, relaying an excess of power into the station’s subsystems. I believe the pyramid would have been ready to open had we been more prepared and known what would follow. Since that date, we discovered the tanks have begun to leak the energy as a gas into the air. This appears to be by the Ancients’ design as such high levels of concentrated aetherial 0energy may perhaps be unstable when contained within the tanks. The rate of loss is slow, however, I predict by December of 1944 the tanks will each be below seventy percent capacity. This will prove an issue as I have calculated a necessary ninety-nine percent capacity for each tank in order to open a gateway to the Aether.”


    Richtofen leaned back, “How have you responded, Groph?”


    “My team has discovered that the tanks themselves are able to be removed from the base of the structure, and while the leakage remains, we are able to study the tanks for potential solutions. It would be unwise to test the forethought of the Ancients by modifying the tanks, however, it would be in our best interest if the energy itself was not wasted and was instead used for our other projects. Perhaps with this energy, we may learn more about the cosmic make-up of all living creatures, and how the Vril-Ya used it. In the future, as we endeavor to leave this dimension, we should be more prepared.”


    “Indeed. When the day comes, we must be ready. In that case, we will need another source for this soul, erm, life energy. Sadly, my friends at Küstenposten will not allow future shipments of their prisoners. Something about the remaining subjects we sent back changed their tune.”


    Groph shook his head, “They simply do not understand what we are trying to accomplish.”


    Lehto raised an eyebrow to Groph, saying nothing as Doctor Richtofen pondered.


    Edward pointed quizzically to Doctor Okitsu, “Perhaps… our friends in Japan could lend a hand? Hm?”


    Okitsu replied bluntly, “Inventory at the Rising Sun Facility is well-documented. Such a large shipment of subjects would gather attention.”


    Disappointed, Richtofen asked, “What about from Verrückt ? From what I have heard, Division 9’s policies on living subjects are far more... lenient.


    There was a visible expression of disgust from Okitsu’s face at the comment as he replied, “The arrogant Group 935 pigs at Verrückt have robbed my men of all agency since the Facility was founded. We are more practically considered children than scientists.”


    “Lighten up, Doctor. Under my leadership you are just as much a part of the plan as Group 935’s scientists. If not Verrückt, perhaps… “ Richtofen leaned across the table, whispering to Okitsu in a hushed tone, “Doragon No Shinden ?”


    Okitsu frowned, leaning in to face Richtofen head-on, “Absolutely not. It would be wise if you did not mention it again.”


    Lehto and Groph each leaned away from the duo facing off across the table. Meier sat wide-eyed and tense, unsure of what was to come.


    Richtofen’s lips pursed, before shifting into a child-like smile sharp enough to cut through any anger between them. He sat back in his chair, pleased, “In that case, we will find another source in due time. If nothing turns up, I’m sure Herr Meier could provide us with an ample supply of subjects from the mines. Isn’t that right?”


    He diverted his piercing smile towards Meier, now sunk as deep as possible into his chair.


    Meier said faintly, “I would have no complaints, Doctor.”


    Doctor Lehto shook his head, “Of course you wouldn’t… ”


    Meier shot back, “Oh please, they’d be begging to sacrifice themselves for us. From where do you get your subjects at Der Riese, hm? Which camp did you drag those-“


    Richtofen cued silence like a maestro as he raised one finger in the air towards Meier. He mockingly clicked his tongue, “Temper, temper, Herr Meier. You know better. We’ve been over this.”


    Meier had held his breath since Richtofen silenced him, only releasing as Richtofen turned his attention to everyone in the room, “Gentlemen, I would like to remind you that we are all on the same team here! We have the same goals, after all! You four joined me because I showed you the locked door that will lead us to a better tomorrow. In return, I only ask for your cooperation in securing the keys.”


    Groph nodded, placing his hand on his chest, “I have dedicated my life to this cause. To a new era of Group 935!”


    Lehto stroked the beard at his chin, “I trust in your leadership, old friend.”


    Richtofen glanced at Meier just quickly enough to elicit a frightened reaction, “I… uh, agree.”


    Okitsu had no response, though Richtofen had not expected one. The working relationship with Division 9 was mainly one of resource-sharing rather than allegiance.


    Richtofen said to Okitsu, “Doctor Okitsu… You’ve mentioned to me in the past that Group 935 scientists have interfered with the work of Division 9 at the Rising Sun Facility. Has this continued?”


    Okitsu spoke calmly, “While Doctor Maxis was still present on site our working relationship with Group 935 was cordial. However, since his departure, these men have continued meddling with our work, slowing our progress and squandering our resources. Though the Army passed ownership to Group 935, we are its founders and have worked tirelessly on our projects there. There is little respect between us.”


    Richtofen asked, “Have your complaints to Maxis or your leaders been accounted for?”


    “We in Division 9 are not so quick to protest. We have issued no formal complaints. We have worked diligently under such conditions, and our leaders have taken notice. They will be issuing a broader selection of test subjects for us in the coming weeks.”


    “How exciting!”


    Okitsu shifted to a more frustrated tone, “Group 935, on the other hand, has issued an order coming directly from Doctor Maxis: All weapon projects at the Rising Sun Facility are to be halted, immediately. Because of his insolence, our hard work towards the Ray Gun may be wasted. Their scientists want to shift focus towards these… ridiculous Perk-a-Colas.”


    Lehto chimed in, “Come to think of it, the factory at Der Riese stopped production just a few days ago. Doctor Richtofen, perhaps this was an order to all Group 935 facilities.”


    A twinge of fear struck Doctor Richtofen: This could be the end of the Wunderwaffe project if Maxis truly is shutting down all weapon research. He thought aloud, “Such a shift in focus could mean the breaking of our relationship with the Reichstag… It could be the beginning of the end… Nein, nein, I have not received such an order here at the castle. It may perhaps be a tightening of focus towards more… promising weapon projects.”


    Richtofen began to smile again, before noticing the glare from Okitsu. Richtofen continued, “Gentlemen, I do not believe this will be an issue. We still have enough funding for our own projects outside of Doctor Maxis’ demands. We will wait und see where this issue leads us.”


    The room filled with silence and Richtofen returned his gaze to his legal pad, now ready to address a final issue raised by Herr Meier. Joy.


    “Herr Meier! Herr Meier… can I just call you Jakob?”


    Jakob replied post-haste, “Absolutely, Doctor.”


    “Splendid! How has morale been in the mines?”


    “Uh, not, not great, sir. The mercenaries we’ve hired have demanded higher pay with the increase in incidents as of late. With their demands unanswered, they’ve stopped enforcing rules amongst the s-, uh, villagers working for us.”


    “Oh dear.” Richtofen began to chuckle, “Well, we can’t have a rebellion within our own rebellion, now can we?”


    “No, sir.”


    “Well, if all diplomatic solutions have been attempted… “


    “Yes, Doctor. I’ve tried everything you told me to do.”


    “Hm… Doctor Groph? Would our financial situation be able to accommodate a pay increase?”


    Groph fumbled with his notes, “Er, let me… Ah, well with our funds towards the MPD project as well as… side projects, this would not be possible. We are spread a bit thin, Doctor. Perhaps… we could seek reparations with the Reichstag, under the guise we are working for Maxis, of course.”


    Richtofen placed his palm towards Groph, speaking firmly, “That will not be necessary. Jakob? Have the head of staff arrange a meeting with myself und the mercenaries. I will sort this all out myself, und if they will not cooperate we may consider searching for candidates among the Reichstag’s soldiers at our facilities: Men not paid out of our own pockets, but men who are loyal.”


    Meier replied, “Thank you, Doctor. I will do just that.”


    “One more thing: Have you noticed anyone acting… suspicious amongst your staff?”


    “Sus- No, no, sir. Just angry or irritable or… normal.”


    “I only ask because I have reason to believe that there may be a spy among our ranks.”


    Groph leaned onto the table, causing it to wobble, “A spy working for Maxis?”


    Okitsu asked, now interested, “From the Allies?”


    Richtofen raised both hands, convincing them to settle, “I can’t be certain. I have noticed a select few members within Group 935 asking far too many questions und snooping. One that comes to mind is the boy who arrives with our Verrückt shipments… the name currently escapes me.”


    Okitsu inquired, “Pablo?”

    Ja! That’s the one. With every shipment, he asks a bit too specifically about our operations here… I do not trust him.”


    Okitsu scoffed, “Pablo was vetted by our men. I assure you he can be trusted.”


    “No offense, Doctor, but we can never be sure who is trustworthy, especially during such a crucial phase in our development. Doctor Groph, you should remain vigilant as I leave for Der Riese in the morning. I shall be leaving the castle under your watch.”


    Groph said, “I am honored, Doctor. I will be watchful for traitors.”


    Lehto extended his hand, gesturing towards the outside of the room, “And what about your court-appointed lackey, Doctor Richtofen? Don’t you suspect any transgression from a student of Maxis himself?”


    Richtofen assured Lehto, “Doctor Wagner is harmless!”


    Okitsu warned, “For now, he is.”


    Richtofen, now slightly angered by the implication, added, “I have spent years working with him. His loyalties lie with Group 935, and soon he will come around to seeing Maxis’ incompetence as its leader, just as all of you have. One day, he may even serve at this table. I believe he can change for the better with time. For now, we will focus on keeping our operations a secret. Our progress will become apparent to the world at large when our mission is complete, and it will be in spite of Maxis and his orders!”


    The rest at the table seemed to feel a mix of satisfaction, fear, and exhaustion, saying nothing else as Richtofen calmed himself.


    Richtofen scratched out the final talking point on his pad, gesturing to the others, “If our business is concluded, then this meeting is hereby… adjourned!”


    Okitsu and Lehto immediately stood up from their seats, Meier following suit, as they all gathered their belongings and prepared to leave. Richtofen inquired, “Can I get any of you some refreshments before you leave? Hm? Hot tea? Coffee? I know the mountain-tops are a bit less hospitable than the swamp, Doctor Okitsu. I’m sure-”


    Every man stood silent, still, and waiting as the sound of a dog’s bark emanated from outside the door to the room, followed by someone’s voice urging the dog to hush.


    The voices began to whisper dark thoughts, pushing Richtofen towards the door. He approached it slowly, twisting the knob and pulling it open. Revealed in the doorway was a shell-shocked Doctor Wagner, standing right up against where the door had been, Samantha’s dog Fluffy at his feet whining.


    Flustered by the eavesdropper and the whirlwind of words circling inside his mind, Richtofen only asked, “What are you doing here?”


    Wagner seemed just as ruffled by the moment, no doubt from the revelations he had just had regarding Edward and the four other men staring directly into him.


    “I… was looking for Samantha. She had been roaming the labs, awakened from some kind of nightmare. I made sure she was alright and found Fluffy loose as well. I heard you speaking and… I did not realize there was a meeting being held.”


    “Oh… ” Richtofen waited a moment for an accusation or reprimand from the young scientist.


    “I heard… you were talking about Maxis. And his orders. What’s this about a rebellion? And, and mines? What’s going on, Doctor?”


    “I can explain, Doctor Wagner. In due time. I simply need you to return to your post und await my instruction-”


    “Have you betrayed Doctor Maxis? I had my suspicions something was wrong here, like your scientists were always hiding something from me as I passed by… But, I could never have imagined that you… “


    “Please, remain calm. It will all make sense-”


    “No, explain it to me at once and then I will contact Ludvig. Is that Doctor Groph in there? Doctor Okitsu? Lehto?”


    Richtofen glanced back at the others, positioned just as they were before, Meier sweating, and the others looking to Edward. Groph’s expression demanded Edward respond appropriately.


    He returned to Wagner, now sure he was serious in his threats. He straightened his posture, turning his head back to the other men so they knew he was addressing them, “The meeting is over. Return to your posts. I will contact you this evening.”


    One by one, they shuffled out, neglecting any eye contact with either Richtofen or Wagner as they stared into one another. Groph came last, slowing his pace, looking to Richtofen as an offer of solidarity.


    Richtofen gestured Groph to the door, “That will be all, Groph. Take the dog to Samantha’s room.”


    As he left the room, Groph closed the wooden door behind him.


    Richtofen began to pace around the room, sweat building as the volume of the voices rose in his head.


    Wagner spoke up, “Well?”


    After a moment, Richtofen turned back towards Wagner, “Two years ago during MTD testing, I was accidentally teleported to... the Moon. I say ‘accidentally,’ however, this proved to be fate calling to me. There, I discovered a pyramid built by an ancient race of beings… It was able to teleport me to a temple with a massive deposit of Element 115, and it was able to send me back to Der Riese .”


    “The… Moon? Why did you not share this with the rest of Group 935?”


    “The MTD tests were behind Maxis’ back. He… he simply could not see the potential at that time. He has always been unable to look past his own ego… This pyramid is a gateway of some kind… to a dimension beyond our perception. It holds an extraordinary potential to change the world for the better. We built a base around the pyramid to study it and perhaps, one day, unlock it.”


    “Why keep this from Maxis?”


    “His deal with the Reichstag stands to tear Group 935 and its ideals apart at the seams! We are accomplices in Germany’s actions in this war, und I am trying to alter the legacy we will leave behind. I am trying to free humanity from its limitations! Maxis would only stand in our way. Do you understand, Doctor Wagner? Please tell me you do. I want your support.”


    Wagner shook his head, glancing around the stony meeting room, searching for an answer, “I… see now, Edward. Your vision.”


    Surprised and relieved, Edward approached Wagner, arm to his shoulder, “Then join me, Hans.”


    Wagner stepped away, “You are a madman. I’m sorry, old friend, but Maxis will hear what you have done. Step back.”


    Edward’s expression changed to one of shock, and most of all, fear. Wagner began to pace around him towards the phone attached to the opposite wall. Richtofen glanced around the room; He felt as if the walls were shaking and the ground crumbling beneath him. The voices screamed violent, agonizing thoughts in his mind, pulling him to the ground. He shut his eyes, searching for the words to set things right. As Wagner picked up the phone and began to dial, Edward knew there was no other way.


    He reached into his carrying bag below the table, shuffling through his belongings before finding the leather sheath of his Hitler Youth Knife. Through the fear and vertigo, Richtofen rose as tall as he could stand, walking to the pace of the wailing voices. 


    Now inches away from Wagner, he grabbed him by the shoulder, pulling him from the phone. Wagner froze, shocked by the force in Richtofen’s grip as he dropped the corded phone, which slammed into the wall.


    “Edward, what are you… No!


    The sheath now on the ground, Richtofen plunged the short blade deep into Wagner’s breast, puncturing his lung. With his hands, Wagner tried to push Richtofen away, but his strength was not enough to keep Richtofen from removing the blade, and performing a stabbing motion again. And again, And again.


    Warm, pumping blood shot from his chest onto Richtofen’s jacket as Wagner gasped for air and saliva mixed with blood dribbled from his lips. He lost the strength to fight back, his arms now resting at his sides. Richtofen stared deeply into Wagner’s bright, blue eyes, now covered with fluid as tears seeped out. Again he stabbed Wagner in the chest, holding the blade firmly in place. Wagner’s torso began to lower to the ground as his legs crumpled. Richtofen lowered down with him, voices blocking any other sound in the room. After a few moments, he let go of the blade embedded in Wagner’s upper chest. 


    Richtofen fell back, his entire body exhausted and his mind clouded, unable to process the moment in its intensity. For several minutes, Edward laid on the cold floor soaked through layers of clothing in another man’s blood. Over time, the voices dissipated, and Richtofen was left completely, profoundly alone.



    Under the setting sun of the Austrian mountain-top, Richtofen slowed his pace to a crawl, falling to his knees in the thick snow. He looked back to the road he had come from, completely invisible through the fog and bitter wind-driven snow. Below him was a large, man-sized bag he had dragged to that point, leaving a trail imprinted on the ground. 


    Richtofen crawled to the bag, barely able to make it out through the intensity of the fog. He pulled on the zipper from the end closest to him towards the other. From the unopened end of the bag, Richtofen hoisted it up, dumping the contents onto the snow. Doctor Wagner’s twisted corpse laid bare on the harsh, white surface of the mountain, face-up, the knife remaining in his chest.


    Richtofen searched again for any view of the road he came from or the Castle, unable to see either from his current location. He folded the bag, placing it under the arm of his thick fur- coat before gazing over the body one last time.


    No second thought given, Richtofen turned back towards the trail the body bag had left behind, embarking towards the road, his mind at ease knowing he had done the right thing.

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