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The Expedition is a short story written by Ben Croshaw and published on his website on 16th April 2009. It is a tie-in piece of fiction designed to fill out the darker aspects of the Chzo Mythos.

Plot Edit

The story is told from the perspective of an unnamed soldier serving under Captain James Troughton's Special Rifle Brigade on behalf of the Ministry of Occultism. The Brigade are tasked with protecting a unit of three magician-scientists as they make their way to the Ethereal Realm; while there, the magicians request they take care of a "problem" in the north, as Ethereal Realm creatures are vulnerable to weapons from the World of Technology. Accompanying them is their translator, a Scandinavian telepath named Ericsson who is described as easily frightened and nervous. The magicians mention the specifics to Ericsson, who becomes even more distressed.

The Brigade arrives in the Ethereal Realm on July 28th, 1910, and set up camp. During the night, Ericsson suffers a nightmare or painful vision; after coming out of it, he can only reply with "it hurts". A member of the crew, Harding, notes the magicians have disappeared; Ericsson remarks the magicians are in pain, and a search and rescue is ordered by Harding.

The Brigade eventually stumble upon an abandoned hotel, strongly implied to be the Clanbronwyn Hotel of Trilby's Notes, and make their way inside. They're alerted past the dining room to a barren room to the north, where they see the magician being tortured by an unseen figure. Instinctively, Captain Troughton fires his rifle to scare the thing away; it reveals itself to be Cabadath, who separates Troughton from the Brigade and quickly attacks him with his stave. The protagonist, along with his comrades, quickly retreat from the hotel, but is knocked unconscious.

When the protagonist comes to, he is being carried by a large mass of cartilage with mechanical spider legs (later identified as an 'Engineer'); in desperation, he stabs at a leg joint with a bayonet, causing it to topple, and then kills it by piercing its underbelly. The campsite is deserted with no-one in sight; the protagonist follows the Engineers in the hopes of rescuing them and the magicians.

He travels into what he thinks is a cave, but is quickly revealed to be a giant mouth; the protagonist flees after hearing a 'grotesque pig-like squeal', but is unable to get out, assuming he turned a corner without realising it. Trapped, he can only walk forward into Chzo's domain, and sees the eye of Chzo before stumbling on an Engineer torturing a man. This leads him to a large chamber where he sees dozens of Engineers carrying naked men on their backs "like a production line". The protagonist attempts to make his way down when he is attacked by a mangled Harding; his eyelids have been pinned back by four staples, his lips split open and held by four misshapen nails, a metal bar has been driven through both his knees separating the legs, and a bayonet has been driven through his palm. The protagonist retreats, only to run into Cabadath, who imprisons him.

The last part of the story details the protagonist's report; his comrades have been transformed into mindless metallic vegetables similar to Harding; one colleague is driven to hysteria; he briefly sees a clone of Trilby; and a bald bearded druid (presumably Cabadath's past form) is constantly tortured and his face covered by white cloth. He briefly converses with Ericsson, a "special prisoner" like himself, who recounts Chzo's legend, and despairs that they walked right into him. He then reveals Chzo looks at the World of Technology, and desires their weapons. Ericsson is then turned into another mindless slave. The protagonist is left to await when he himself will be turned into them, and savours the time by writing the last of his report:

"But for now I am a man and my mind is still my own. I am still a rifleman of Captain Troughton’s Special Brigade. I am still an Englishman in the service of the Ministry of Occultism. They sent us here to write reports. So this is my report. I know it will never be read and it hurts

"I have carved every word into the fleshy skin of my cell walls, painstakingly tearing every stroke with a sharpened button from my shirt. The King’s foetid blood runs in rivers down the walls and the glow keeps me awake and the smell chokes my senses and it hurts

"My hands are tattered and bleeding and my fingernails are gone and it hurts

"I run out of space on the walls and it hurts

"I find more space on my arms and it hurts and my legs and it hurts and my chest and it hurts and my face and it hurts and my eyes and it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts"

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