From Tatters of the King
Session Report - Played Monday 11th September, 2006
Friday January 12th 1930
The ship steams across the Red Sea on the 2-day leg to the port of Aden. In mid-morning, Withers receives a telegram. Though he does not immediately reveal its contents and does not appear to be unhappy at receiving it, it clearly gives him pause. As the day progresses his friends can see an occasional smile, although he doesn't share the content and evades any questions on it.
At lunch, Mrs Tullis announces her planned Gilbert and Sullivan recital, "William and Arthur", and allocates songs to each of the guests. Realising their voices are not strong, the investigators decide to start rehearsing that afternoon, but Julian Knight does not turn up. The rehearsal is not encouraging.
Francessca, who is getting concerned that her friend Patricia is falling rather heavily for Captain Withers and that she has seen little evidence that he returns the feeling, expresses to Nathaniel that Captain Withers should make his intentions towards her clear. Both Withers and Brown think that it might be better to come from her in a non direct and more face saving way but Francessca is insistent and says that Patricia has recently been badly hurt by a man and that it is important that Captain Withers doesn't behave in a similar fashion.
So later that evening an extremely reluctant and highly embarrassed Captain Withers suggests a walk along the deck after dinner. Although he does his best to let her down lightly Patricia reacts badly, accusing Withers of not liking her because of her less outgoing nature. She doesn't listen to his urgent denials and confessions of already loving another before he meet her and Patricia eventually dissolves into tears and runs off into the night to her friend, Francesca Nicholson, for comfort.
Also that very evening Francesca declares her love to Nathaniel Browne, who returns the feelings in full.
Saturday January 13th 1930
In late morning the ship docks at the port of Aden. Passengers go ashore and visit the town. Withers goes into town to try and find some flowers to make up for his rejection of Ms. Berry, but can find none of quality in the dingy town. Browne stays on board as Francesca is comforting Patricia. Although he tries not to, he can't help but feel a little annoyed at Withers for being the reason for his inability to spend time with Francessca. Patricia Berry is absent from both lunch and dinner, but is witnessed by Nathaniel and Francesca that evening on the dance floor with Julian Knight, clearly the worse for drink and equally clearly trying to spite Withers. Francesca advises Nathaniel that anything they try to do will only make things worse, and Nathaniel advises George to stay away from the ballroom.
Sunday January 14th 1930
That evening Table 8 dines with the Captain and Knight is sober, charming and a perfect gentleman.
Monday January 15th 1930
Tuesday January 16th 1930
The last full day aboard the ship, Tuesday ends with the passengers' concert. Each table in the dining room puts on its own show - varying from short melodrama to poetic recitation. Table 8 delivers "William and Arthur" with great success; Francesca and the two Gentleman solo's shine in particular and receive great applause. Withers and Julian Knight engage in a little singing rivalry, a by-product of which results in the medley being more of a success than previously expected. Much champagne is drunk and everyone parties into the night.
Wednesday January 17th 1930
Mrs Tullis takes charge of making sure everyone's luggage is gathered and transport arranged to the Taj Mahal hotel, where she has insisted everyone spend their first night (she can get a group discount on this finest of Indian hotels).
A few minutes later, as the table 8 crew says their farewells (thought they plan to meet later for a meal), there is a sudden scream from Francesca Nicholson. The investigators turn to see her looking down into the water from the dock. "Patricia fell in!" she yells. In seconds Withers has dived into the water and is trying to save Ms Berry, but she fights him and its obvious she intends to drown herself. It's all Withers can do to keep her head above water, but soon Saunders jumps in to help, and between the two men, Patricia is brought to the steps and safety.
"Why did you do it?", asks Withers.
"It was Julian," she sobs, "what he did to me."
Furious, Withers leaves Patricia with Saunders and rushes up the steps, storming past a confused Browne, to find Julian Knight, who can be seen boarding a taxi. 'Stop right there, you son of a bitch!' Withers yells as he runs after Knight. It looks like Knight may escape, but as the taxi starts out it is cut off by a produce truck. Withers drags the startled Knight out of the taxi and orders him to defend himself. Knight seems in shock but a fist whistling past his ear convinces him that Captain Withers is in deadly earnest and he turns to engage the Captain. Mrs Tullis steps in to prevent interference by the local constabulary as the two men fight. A few blows land before Withers ends the fight with a body blow followed by a right cross which drops Knight like a sack of potatoes.
As Withers stands over the battered, bleeding diplomat, Miss Berry walks over and, with great courage and all the dignity she can muster, points at Knight and loudly says "That man raped me!"
Knight is arrested. Mrs Tullis assures the group that her connections will ensure that Julian will have great difficulty exercising his diplomatic immunity.
As soon as a doctor has looked at Patricia, and given her a clean bill of health, Withers apologises for his profanity in front of the ladies('Quite reasonable in the circumstances, old boy!') and those without permanent accommodation in the city head for the Taj Mahal hotel accompanied by Mrs Tullis, who smoothes the way at every step.
Umberto finds his own accommodation, but the others enjoy a fine meal in the luxurious surroundings of the hotel, where Mrs Tullis recommends Sivakumar Patel as a guide for the investigators, and tells them she can make arrangements to have him meet them the next morning.
Both Withers and Browne are distracted by the fact that each feels in some way responsible for what happened to Patricia. Withers guilt is greater, but is much ameliorated by his act of revenge against Knight.
Wednesday January 18th 1930
After a hearty breakfast, the investigators meet their guide, Sivakumar Patel, also known as 'Siva'. The decision has been made that the movements of Quarrie and Anzalone in Bombay need to be looked into before travelling any further. While the others go in search of local newspaper archives, Withers goes shopping with Siva. He asks to be shown some good jewellers and Siva proudly tells him that Bombay is the jewellry capital of India.
At the offices of the Times of India Browne finds a report of the Italian Expedition's arrival in the city, but no more details. It is decided to ask Siva if he can find out who Quarrie hired as a guide while in the city.
Meanwhile, at the market, Withers sees what appears to be the Stranger, the Pallid Mask himself, standing amidst the crowd. As Withers stares in amazement the apparition walks straight through another shopper before brushing Withers with its sleeve. When it does this Withers receives a sudden powerful vision of Carcosa, then the Stranger is gone, leaving the man that he walked through sobbing uncontrollably. Withers asks Siva if he saw what happened, but Siva saw nobody.
Back at the hotel, Siva agrees to go and ask around to see what he can find out about the Italian expedition. He returns a little after lunch with the news that he located the guide they used, one Rajinder Singh, and has been to see him. According to Singh the Europeans spent their time shopping and exploring the city, but that they did visit a Holy Man at the Towers of Silence, who spoke to them and seemed disturbed by what they said to him. Siva can take the investigators to see this man if they are interested. They are indeed.
In mid afternoon the investigators, including Umberto board a couple of gharis and head to the Towers of Silence, on the outskirts of the city. there amongst the vulture picked remains atop the Parsee funerary towers they find the Holy Man in question, a wizened old Parsee. Siva translates for them.
The Holy Man says that he remembers the man who bore the mark of a God upon his soul. He says that Nathaniel Browne also bears this mark, but not as strongly.
The God in question is the Outsider, the God In White, who is 'older than the Earth'.
The outsider can be found in the North, in the mountains where the 'small people' think him a Buddha. He is even now walking towards us.
The investigators return to their hotel and agree that they must travel to Nepal as soon as possible and try to pick up Quarrie's trail in Mustang. Reverend Gore is taking the Saturday morning train to Jabalpur, which is en route to the Nepalese border, so the investigators decide to travel with him. They set about making sure that they are fully equipped for a journey that will include a hike of at least 2 weeks in each direction from the end of the railway to the heart of the Kingdom of Mustang.
That night the dreams come again, more vivid than ever.
Continue to Session 14.
Link to come...