From Tatters of the King
Session Report - Played Monday 21st August, 2006
Friday December 13th 1929
Gresty turns out to be a scrawny man in his 40s, with protuberant ears, a scraggly beard and bad teeth. He appears contrite, and somewhat agitated in court, pleading guilty to the charge of breaking and entering, but not to assault.Christ Church, Spitalfields, cutting his hands as he climbed through the window, and that he was kneeling at the altar when he was disturbed by a voice. Turning and fleeing in sudden terror he must have accidentally knocked the verger to the ground.
Gresty appears genuinely sorry, and is fined 2 pounds plus the cost of repairs.
As Gresty leaves the court, Bartlett approaches him and introduces himself. Gresty is thrilled to meet his 'friends', and is most interested to hear that they went to Scotland and witnessed (indeed, caused) the death of Montague Edwards. He invites them to his local watering hole, The Plough Inn, for a drink and a chat.
Gresty explains that he is a true servant of 'The Goat' sent here from the West Country to infiltrate the worshippers of Hastur, and that he succeeded briliantly. He is proud of his role in the death of Lawrence Bacon, and reveals that as the housemate and drinking partner of Coombes he was able to learn all of Bacon's plans and work against them.
He says also that he has been awaiting the death of his superior in the Shub-Niggurath cult, Atkinson, so that he can return home to inherit the role of leader, and that now that Atkinson is near death he has been summoned.
Realising that the influence of Hastur was once again strong, he decided to act against it by going to a place sacred to the 'British Gods' and calling upon their aid. He chose Christ Church because as one of the churches of Nicholas Hawksmoor it is in reality a shrine not to 'the carpenter god' but to the true, old gods of Britain.
He sliced his hands open deliberately and called upon 'Shub-Niggurath and Y'Golonac', and was then interrupted by the verger, who he deliberately knocked to the ground in anger and being so interrupted.
At this point, having touched on a personal obsession, Gresty launches into a rambling discourse on Hawksmoor and his churches - going so far as to lead the investigators to Christ Church, where he stands on the pavement outside, excitedly proclaiming his beliefs.
When he calms down, and is offered Bartlett's hip flask, which he drains, Gresty explains that he is about to return to his home at Mercy Hill in the Severn Valley, where 'the woman at Nug's Farm' thinks she is Atkinson's heir, but that he, Wilfred Gresty will inherit.
Saturday December 14th 1929
As time is thought to be of the essence it is agreed that Browne will head at once to the map room of the British Library and scour old maps for the location of Mercy Hill, and will give his friends the map reference by telephone. If Browne cannot locate it, at least the others can ask locally.
Fortunately, by early afternoon Browne has located a set of 1911 military survey maps of the area, and on them he locates not only Mercy Hill, but also Nug's Farm itself! The buildings that make up these settlements are in fact marked, though not identified, on the latest Ordnance Survey maps, which Withers carries, but oddly the local forest, Goatswood appears to have encroached significantly on them since 1911.
Browne phones the hotel where the others have just arrived and gives them the grid references. They head off to hire a car, but find that nothing is available and end up having to pay a garage owner an exorbitant fee to hire him to drive them to the area in the morning. The only other choice is a daily bus which stops at the village of Clotton, but this does not run at weekends.
Sunday December 15th 1929 - Day
Its a bitterly cold morning as the car struggles south along the minor road that heads into the Goatswood region. The driver explains that the people around here keep themselves to themselves and are not well thought of amongst 'decent people', but he's happy to take their money, and asks no questions.
Soon they are passing through grim little villages of ancient cottages, with hardly a sign of people or of commerce. They are dropped off in one of these places, a village called Clotton, which has no pub, no shops and apparently no electricity. The church is a boarded up ruin. The only sign of life is the movement of a curtain, but there is no answer to a knock on that door.
The driver agrees to return, but it must be before dusk, if they are not here when he arrives, he won't wait.
Withers checks his gun and the 2 men head across country to where Nug's Farm is marked on their map. They pass over a footbridge and find themselves following a very old footpath across the icy landscape. The region looks like it hasn't progressed in 200 years - farm machinery is horsedrawn, there is no sign of modern architecture or amenities. Soon the path passes through a small wood that does not appear on the map.
The wood is thick, and strangely warm. A deep thrumming noise, almost below the range of human hearing, is just audible and starts to bring on headaches. Then the investigators spot a bizarre figure watching them through the trees. Humanoid, with a strangely goat-like face and naked from the waist up, the man, if man it truly is, seems at first to be wearing thickly furred trousers, but in the seconds before he disappears into the trees Withers and Bartlett realise that the fur is his, and that his legs are jointed the wrong way, and do not end in feet.
Realising that they have seen what seems to be a Satyr, Withers and Bartlett prepare themselves for the unexpected. Leaving the wood they see in the valley below a small, but well-maintained farm. Somehow this place seems more healthy, more homely than any other structure around here. On the far side of the farm sits the brooding bulk of Goatswood Forest itself, a long spur of the forest cuts the farm off from Mercy Hill to the North, and the hamlet is not visible from here.
The investigators head for the farm, trying their best to look like innocent ramblers out for a country stroll. In the yard of Nug's farm a labourer is working on repairing some tools. He sees the approaching strangers, enters the house and Hillary Quarrie emerges. The labourer has the inbred, unhealthy, goat-like appearance common to Goatswood locals, and reminiscent of Wilfred Gresty, but Hillary is a normal, quite attractive woman, albeit somewhat dowdily dressed in overalls and boots.
As the investigators draw closer, Hillary whistles and 3 huge mastiffs (Pig, Bull and Walter) emerge from the house and stand by her. Hillary hails the strangers and asks what brings them to this place on such a cold day.
Withers and Bartlett cut straight to the chase, they are here because they seek Malcolm Quarrie, and they were present when Malcolm's former friends brought Carcosa to Earth. Hillary invites them into the house, but seems more interested in listening than talking. She hears the entire story of the Roby case and the Hastur cult, then reveals that she knows almost nothing of these things, and cares little as she is quite confident that her Gods, the British Gods, will protect this land from such alien horrors. She states simply that Edwards could not have succeeded, for Shub-Niggurath would not allow it.Wilfred Gresty has arrived, and he has brought with him an entourage, half a dozen local men with the familiar goatlike look, but also 3 or 4 of the half-human creatures seen earlier in the woods.
Its obvious that there is some kind of confrontation going on - Gresty is animated and gesticulates wildly while Hillary is grim-faced and imperturbable. Only a few words can be heard from within the house, but its clear that Gresty is delivering an ultimatum and that Hillary is in no mood to accept. Gresty turns and storms off with his followers and Hillary returns to the house with a look of urgency.
Hillary goes straight to her study and starts bringing papers into the kitchen to burn in the pot-bellied stove. She is ripping pages from a book and shoving them into the flames when she seems to notice the investigators again. They ask what is happening and remind her that they know Gresty. Hillary pauses, calms a little and decides to tell her story. She tells them that she would like very much for them to stay here and aid her tonight, as she thinks she needs help, but that she understands fully if they don't wish to and says they will need to leave before nightfall if this in their choice. First, however, she sits them down and tells them everything.
Hillary Quarrie's story is detailed on her page of this wiki, but the upshot of it is that tonight she will be fighting for her life, and the future of the Goatswood cult. Gresty has convinced Atkinson to act against her and she must defeat both of them, or die. She knows where Malcolm is, or at least where he was until recently, and as a sign of good faith she fetches the only 2 letters she has received from her husband since he went to the continent.
The investigators read these letters, consider the situation and agree to stay to aid Hillary. She tells them that she has destroyed 'The Revelations of Glaaki' in the stove so that if Gresty wins he will never have access to the secrets within that book. All they can do for now is sit and wait. Hillary asks them to promise that she will do whatever she asks tonight quickly and without question - otherwise they will be in great danger. They agree, but start to worry exactly what will be expected of them.
Will, the farmhand, turns up with several other men loyal to Hillary. She turns them away saying that she has help enough and that if she is defeated it is best that no other cult members be seen to have stood with her. Will and his friends leave, reluctantly, and the afternoon moves into evening.
Sunday December 15th 1929 - Night
Night falls. On the far side of the woods, in Mercy Hill, a bonfire is lit, its flickering glow clearly visible from Nug's Farm. Voices are raised in pagan prayer. There are chants and then a scream. Hillary tells Withers and Bartlett that now is the time, and leads them out into the yard, shutting her dogs up in the house. She tells the investigators to go to the henhouse and bring back 2 chickens each, and to hold them by the necks. Withers is perturbed that this means he won't be able to use his gun.
Fetching the chickens is less easy that it seemed, and both investigators get scratched and pecked, but soon they stand behind Hillary looking out towards Goatswood, struggling poultry in hand. They see the wicked curved knife in Hillary's hand and start to worry if this is an entirely appropriate activity for respectable Christian gentlemen.
Something huge stirs and begins crashing its way through the trees towards them. "It's one of Shub-Niggurath's Young." says Hillary, "I can deal with this." She raises her voice and starts to scream out the words of what can only be a spell.
"Ishnigarrab!" she screams, slashing at one of the chickens, tearing it open with her knife, but not yet killing it.
"Say it! Help me. Say it!"
Both investigators repeat the word.
"The Black Mouth!", and a second chicken is slashed. "Repeat it!"
This time only Bartlett responds
"The Black Tongue!", and another slash.
Once more, Bartlett responds alone.
"The Black Lip!", and a final slash.
This time neither investigator responds, for both have seen the vast horror which has emerged from the woods. A great writhing shadow the size of a house, huge trunk-like legs supporting a mass of thick writhing tentacles. The stench of the thing is indescribable. For a second it stands still, seemingly transfixed by Hillary's ritual.
"Ishnigarrab! Utug Xal", and Hillary turns and neatly decapitates the chickens held by the stupefied Bartlett, but as she turns to kill Withers' birds she sees that the Captain has dropped them and is instead levelling his rifle at the creature.
"You fool!", she shouts, and darts towards the closest of the two injured chickens.
Withers fires - one shot, two shots, three shots. The only effect they seem to have is to stir the creature from its reverie, and it starts to move forwards towards the farm once more. For Withers time seems to slow down for a few seconds, as he assesses the situation.
Bartlett is staring slack-jawed at the approaching horror. Hillary has caught the third chicken and has hacked its head from its body, and across the farmyard the final hen is fleeing for the henhouse. Suddenly, Withers realises what he must do. He turns, levels his rifle, aims carefully and puts a bullet straight through the last chicken, completing the sacrifice.
Shub-Niggurath's Young stops in its tracks. Hillary, exultant, strides towards it, covered in blood from the chickens.
"You will kill the ones who summoned you, and all who were there with them. Then you will go back to your Mother to draw on her teat!"
The creature turns and begins to stride back towards Mercy Hill. "You might want to go inside," says Hillary, "you won't want to hear this."
Withers and Bartlett take her advice, heading inside the house and Hillary stands in the yard listening to the screams and crashes coming from beyond the trees as Mercy Hill is destroyed and Gresty, Atkinson and their faction meet their horrible, but well-deserved ends.
Monday December 16th 1929
Withers and Bartlett wake up in the chairs where they slept the previous night. They both have chicken blood splattered on their skin and clothing. Hillary offers then breakfast and a chance to wash up, then leads them to Clotton to catch the northbound bus.
She thanks them for their aid and tells them that now the Goatswood Cult is in her hands she will use its power to bring about a new Golden Age for Britain. They have done a great service for their country, though she doubts they truly understand that. She hopes they find Malcolm, for although his plans are unlikely to harm Britain, protected as it is, the rest of the world is not so safe.
Finally, asked if she has a message for her husband, Hillary replies "Just tell him that Sarah is healthy and happy."
The investigators board the nearly empty bus and head back to Gloucester. Shaken by their experience, but carrying with them that which they have sought for over a year, a clear signpost to the location of Malcolm Quarrie. Saunders is back in London today, so an evening meeting at Bartlett's house seems apt.
Continue to Session 11.
Link to come...