From Tatters of the King
Session Report - Played Monday 17th July, 2006
Saturday 1st December
--- Continued ---
As the shock of the latest revelations soak in, the investigators begin to discuss their next move. It is agreed that Roby must be located, and that the authorities would not be able to grasp the nature of the threat. Various lines of research are suggested, but no clear strategy is formulated.
Everyone goes home to sleep on it.
Sunday 2nd December
The Sunday papers report the discovery of the bodies of two vagrants in the area of the Regent Canal. The investigators' thoughts initially turn to Lawrence Bacon and his victim of Tuesday night, but the facts of the story do not fit this idea. Both men had been freshly murdered, with the killing of the second victim apparently witnessed, though details are sketchy.
With all offices and libraries closed, the investigators spend the day with family, or in private study.
Monday 3rd December
The "London World" this morning carries a lurid description of 'The Canal Monster', claiming that the witness who saw the second killing described a vaguely humanoid creature that walked with a wet sloshing noise which tore out the tramp's insides. The story was written by a reporter called Cec Watts.
Withers, wanting to be sure that neither victim was Lawrence Bacon, while secretly fearing that the killer WAS him, calls the police with a story of a missing friend and visits the Islington police station where investigating officer DI Hodges is based. Hodges reveals little, and the sketches of the victims' faces show non-descript middle-aged men unknown to Withers.
Meanwhile Saunders follows up Edwards' application to the British Library and Browne looks up information on Tezchaptl. Although Browne's search is fruitless, Saunders discovers that Edwards' references for a reader's ticket were Malcolm Quarrie and Dr Schwabe of the Slade School of Fine Arts. Saunders contacts Schwabe who has clear memories of Edwards as a young artist who showed talent but no desire for fame, or even success, and who left Slade without completing his degree. He also reveals that as a keen amateur archaeologist it was Schwabe who told Edwards of the 1907 dig at Springer Mound, and showed him slides of the site. He remembers Edwards being very interested in the place, for reasons that were never clear. Schwabe has no idea where Edwards might be.
Saunders tries to find familiar names in the Tewkesbury phone book. and contacts a couple of W Gresty's only to discover thats it's a common name in the region, and neither of them is, or know of, Wilfred Gresty.
Tuesday 4th December
In Brazil a seaplane, carrying a dozen eminent scientists, crashes during a flyby to honour the eminent aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont with the loss of almost all on board.
Browne meets Cec Watts in a pub and gives him an edited version of Vincent Tuck's statement about Lawrence Bacon, along with Tuck's name, in return for a promise to share information. Browne is hoping that Watts will come to suspect Bacon of the canal murders and will be able to find out more without directly involving the investigators. Browne gives Watts a PO Box number to contact him through.
Wednesday 5th December
Thursday 6th December
The newspapers report the discovery of the body of Cec Watts, found floating the previous day in Regent's Canal, an apparent victim of the Canal Killer.
Browne, knowing he's been seen with Watts, visits the police and spins a tale to DI Hodges inventing an innocent explanation for the contact involving a story that he was writing, Hodges seems to buy the story. As Browne goes to leave, Hodge asks if the name Lawrence Bacon means anything to him. Browne manages to stop any shocked reaction from showing on his face, and replies that he doesn't think so. Hodges says that Bacon's address was found on a slip of paper in Watts' possession and lets slip that Bacon's shop was visited by the police and found to have been thoroughly ransacked by unknown hands (although the investigators had taken items from the shop, they certainly had not left it in a condition which could be described as 'ransacked').
Friday 7th December
Dr. Highsmith phones Doctor Bartlett. He has been able to talk to Lucius Harriwell, now under close confinement and in a straitjacket, but back at St Agnes. According to Harriwell he overheard the Devil talking with Alexander Roby about leaving with him to 'complete the work', shortly after which Harriwell heard terrible sounds from the next cell. The 'Devil' then entered Harriwell's room, covered in blood and deep cuts. He threw one of his 'hands' (apparently a knife) to Harriwell and said "Seven days for his work, Lucius, then five for mine."
Highsmith has told the police that he believes Harriwell met the real murderer, but Atkins is certain Lucius was the asylum killer, and would not listen.
The investigators think that it's possible that Edwards has taken Roby back to Springer Mound, and as they have no other current leads jump in their cars and drive to Suffolk as fast as they can. At Long Melford, asking about recent strange activity in the area they are told of trucks that arrived at Harold Jennings' old farm one evening, a week or so after Jennings' died.
The investigators head to Springer Mound and find that the Springer Mound monsters have gone, as have the nine stones - with evidence of trucks and heavy lifting equipment involved. Bartlett climbs the mound, smells the tar pit at its summit, has his dream come back to him anew - the smell of rotting fruit so terribly familiar - and insists on leaving.
In Clare Melford, it is discovered that Dick Blair, the pub landlord who came to the village shortly after 'the night of the Curse', is gone, having suddenly quit just after the trucks visited Springer Mound. The investigators return to London, feeling that events are moving on without them.
Saturday 8th December
The BBC and the morning papers report last night's killing of the supposed perpetrator of the Canal Murders by armed police in the railway engineering yard near Kings Cross Station. The details remain sketchy, but the police seem sure the killer is dead, though he has not been named and no picture has been released. The area remains sealed off.
The investigators plan to gather at Bartlett's home for lunch, but before he can leave the barracks, Withers is visited by Delia Hartston who is accompanied by Withers' sister. Delia has just received a note from Alexander Roby, asking her to meet him at Loch Mullardoch near Inverness, Scotland, where he will prove that he was 'not chasing the devil'. Delia has no intentions of going, but knows Withers was seeking Roby.
Meanwhile, on the tube train to Wimbledon, Browne is leafing through 'Occult Magazine', new that morning, and finds an obituary for Lawrence Bacon written by someone under the pseudonym 'Perdurabo' who clearly knows a lot about Bacon's past. The obituary is strange as Bacon is not officially dead, and useful as it refers to Montague Edwards as a mutual friend of both Bacon and the writer, and as the self-styled 'Laird of Mullardoch'.
With this new information, and the apparent timeline referred to by Lucius Harriwell the decision is made to travel as fast as possible to Inverness. A train leaves that afternoon, for an overnight stopover in Manchester and arrival in Inverness at 2pm the next day. Bartlett is reluctant to leave his wife alone but, as Saunders' family live in the area of Inverness, she is convinced to accompany her husband on the trip on the pretense of meeting them.
The investigators take that train, and spend a snowy night in Manchester.
Sunday 9th December
The train heads on Northwards towards Scotland. The investigators encounter a nervous passenger who is absently fiddling with a bone whistle just like the one they have. The turns out to be Henry Lister, a pathetic excuse for a man whom Withers easily intimidates into telling all he knows.
Lister, who has been terrified of death all his life, joined an occult society that used to meet at Lawrence Bacon's shop, because he had been told that Bacon knew the secret of conquering death. The society studied and eventually worshipped a being called Hastur who they endeavoured to return to Earth to bring about a golden age of art and wonder.
According to Lister the order, or cult, attempted to bring Hastur to earth at Springer Mound, but Lister had backed out of the ceremony early and saw nothing. He knows that not everyone returned from Suffolk, and that Bacon and Edwards were changed by the experience, and that Malcolm Quarrie left the order shortly afterwards.
After Springer Mound the cult began working towards a new end, of which Lister was told nothing. The great day was approaching, said Bacon, who still held meetings at his shop,though with much reduced frequency and attendance. Finally the members were told to travel to Inverness by December 5th, where they would be picked up at the station and taken to the place where Hastur would return to Earth.
Lister had dithered and prevaricated for days before finally deciding to travel to Scotland, several days late. However,the meeting with the investigators finally destroys his resolve and he leaves the train in the Lake District, abandoning his whistle and with it the Hastur cult.
The train arrives in a cold, snowy Inverness at 2pm. Saunders' relatives meet the investigators, who have no choice but to endure an afternoon and evening of Scottish hospitality. The decision is made to travel to Loch Mullardoch first thing on Monday morning. Heavy snow falls overnight.
Monday 10th December
(Although the investigators are unaware of it, today marks the debut of the character Tintin in the first of Herge's strips.)
Leaving Mrs Bartlett with the Saunders clan, the investigators drive through the village of Cannich, and beyond down the Loch Mullardoch road. They reach a gate marked 'Private Property' and pass through, but soon realise that with the heavy snow on the ground it is unsafe to attempt to take the car the whole way to the loch. They park the car as safely as possible and head towards the loch on foot.
The trees seem to be straining towards the loch, and as they get closer they seem almost to be creaking under some unnatural pressure. After a few miles, the sound of something large crashing through the treetops is heard and a creature looking somewhat like a living barrage balloon drags itself into view, using long tentacles to pull itself through the tops of the trees. Its swollen body pulses and glistens. It is utterly alien and Bartlett, thinking it beautiful, has to be physically dissuaded from following it.
Shortly after the thing swims away through the air, the investigators encounter a clearing containing one of the monoliths from Springer Mound, its top glistening with the slime of the alien creature.
With mounting trepidation the group trek on towards the loch, eventually cresting a small rise to see before them the dark surface of the water filling the valley ahead and at its near end the somewhat ugly two-storied white hunting lodge that is Mullardoch House, with a pair of snow-covered cars parked outside.
The road dips back downwards, and the loch is out of sight. At this moment a mysterious mist or fog billows up from nowhere, cutting off visibility. The investigators move forward a few steps, and looming out of the fog, between the investigators and the house, comes a large ornate marble archway that they are sure was not there a second before. As the investigators stare open-mouthed at this wonder, the fog clears as quickly as it came, revealing that Mullardoch House and the investigators now stand in the midst of a vast city of baroque architecture which fills the valley behind them and ahead of them wraps around the shores of what was Loch Mullardoch, but which now is all too clearly the Lake of Hali.
Somehow, each of the investigators knows the name of this place. It is the city of Carcosa, somehow brought to Earth!
Continue to Session 8.
Link to come...