|“||Wide open and unguarded stand our gates,
And through them passes a wild motley throng.
Men from Volga and Tartar steppes.
Featureless figures from the Hoang-ho,
Malayan, Scythian, Teuton, Kelt and Slav,
Flying the Old World's poverty and scorn;
These bringing with them unknown gods and rites,
Those tiger passions here to stretch their claws,
In street and alley what strange tongues are these,
Accents of menace in our ear,
Voices that once the Tower of Babel knew.
–Thomas Bailey Aldrich, The Unguarded Gates, 1882
When the lights go out on the carousel at the House on the Rock, the only illumination is from starlight as the eagle-headed tiger beneath Shadow seems to come to life. He is able to see multiple dimensions with Mr. Nancy appearing to him in all his various forms. The creatures they're now riding trot them to a wooden hall on a hill. Czernobog tells Shadow that none of it is really happening and it's all in his head. Shadow also sees Czernobog in his various forms as Wednesday steers his giant wolf over to Shadow's side and tells him his various names, leading Shadow to ask if Wednesday is Odin, which Wednesday confirms.
They enter Valaskjálf, Odin's old hall, as Mr. Nancy explains to Shadow they're in Wednesday's mind. Wednesday is upset that there aren't as many people waiting for them in the hall as he expected. Mr. Nancy steps up as the "warm-up" man and tells the crowd of Old Gods a story about how he stole Tiger's balls and blamed it on Old Monkey, which is why to this day, Tiger chases monkeys. Wednesday next stands before the people gathered. He gives them a speech about how the New Gods are growing in America and it is now time for the Old Gods to act. Mama-ji gets into an argument with Wednesday, saying they only have to wait for the New Gods to die out like the ones of the past. Wednesday tells them all they have already lost everything and he is offering them the chance to take something back.
The fire burns out and the meeting ends. Shadow asks Mr. Nancy what happens next and Nancy says Wednesday buys them all dinner and will work them one-by-one over to his side. They are suddenly back in the Carousel Room and Wednesday is talking to what looks to be a group of tourists. Wednesday leads them out of the House on the Rock as Shadow asks Nancy if it really happened. Nancy replies, "Heck, nobody's allowed to ride the carousel. Didn't you see the signs? Now hush."
Afterward, Shadow shuttles the gods to the restaurant where Wednesday will be wining and dining them. As he's driving Mama-ji and two other gods (one of whom he thinks is named Elvis and the other he cannot seem to remember), Mama-ji asks Shadow what he thinks of Wednesday's plans and Shadow tells her it's not his job to ask questions. When they get to the restaurant, Shadow is stopped by someone asking for a match before he is hit over the head, restrained, and driven away in a truck.
Shadow labels his captors as the "Spooks" and they take Shadow to a tiny, sparsely furnished room where they hold him prisoner. They remove his belongings except for two quarters, which Shadow uses to entertain himself before putting them away and taking out the silver Liberty dollar to hold onto while he waits. At three in the morning, the Spooks return, asking how long Shadow has been working for Wednesday. They introduce themselves as Mr. Wood (the "bad cop") and Mr. Stone (the "good cop" with the glasses). They feed him and continue questioning him with Wood beating Shadow when Shadow only tells them what they already know. They leave him alone for a couple of hours and Shadow lays down to sleep, dreaming of his mother and Zorya Polunochnaya.
Shadow wakes up to Laura covered in blood. She killed the guards and is there to help Shadow escape from the abandoned freight train car he had been housed in. She tells him to lay low for a while and head South. Shadow asks Laura what she wants and Laura tells him she wants to be really alive again, asking him to make it happen. She leaves and Shadow starts walking South.
Mr. Nancy tells the story of Tiger and Old Monkey and how Anansi stole Tiger's balls and got Old Monkey to be blamed for it.
When Shadow is locked up by the Spookshow, he dreams of his mother dying while trying to tell him something important. He briefly wakes before falling back asleep, clutching his Liberty dollar. He dreams of the coin, Zorya Polunochnaya, and the moon as he rides a silver beam up to the heavens and away from the pain.
While locked up by the Spookshow, Shadow occupies his time playing with his coins. He first practices pushing coins through the table before using two quarters in a Pointless Coin Trick by pretending to move a quarter from one hand to the other.
He then moves onto a "one-handed half-dollar to penny transformation" but using two quarters instead. He alternates concealing and revealing the quarters moving into a Downs palm before blowing on the quarter and slipping it into a Classic palm while swapping it with the coin in the Downs palm, basically rotating the quarters around and around, the illusion being less noticeable than if the trick were done with the intended half-dollar and penny.