From Tatters of the King
Session Report - Played Monday 24th July, 2006
Monday December 10th - Entering Carcosa
As the mist billows away the investigators realise that Mullardoch House is no longer visible. Instead, through the archway ahead of them is what appears to be an abandoned Roman villa. From ahead of them comes light and distant music, behind them the buildings are dark and silent, so they head through the archway.
On the other side they see that the villa is now a tall wooden tower with a great fire burning on its peak – like an ancient lighthouse. The archway behind them has changed too, now a simpler, lower building. Deciding that the lighthouse may be important, as it stands where Mulalrdoch House should, they enter its open door to find a bare room containing 4 masks on hooks and the stairs up. The masks are ornate stylised animals: an owl, a pig, an ape and a lion. They take one each and go up to the roof.
On the roof a fire with no apparent fuel course burns in a great brazier. From here they can see the extent of the city, spread along both sides of the Loch, which is now also the Lake of Hali. Twin suns shine palely through the clouds and on the opposite side of the Lake sits a vast palace, from which faint music spills. The decision is made to head for the palace.
Back at ground level the entry gate has changed once more, now its surmounted by a great crystal sculpture of a bird with the head of a horse. Saunders catches a glimpse of movement, turns are sees two creatures that look like the the Springer Mound Monsters fly behind a distant spire.
The Narrow Bridge
The investigators head into the city, soon locating a high bridge, only a foot wide and without handrails, crossing a deep canal. Nathaniel Browne starts across, slips and falls into the water. Withers dives in after him, but by the time Bartlett and Saunders reach the edge of the path, neither can be seen. They call for their friends, but hear no reply. Saunders decides to hurry across the bridge, also slips and is only just saved by Bartlett. They decide to find another way across further downstream.
Withers hits the water, resurfaces and realises he cannot see Browne. Treading water he calls for him and hears a distant shout. Steps lead up from the water nearby, so Withers takes them. When he reaches the top the bridge back across the river has changed to something larger and safer, but Withers is alone.
Browne has had a similar experience. After hitting the water he splashed his way to the nearby steps, an shouted up to his friends, but nobody came. Climbing the steps he found himself alone, with an unfamiliar bridge back across the water. Then he heard a gunshots deeper inside the city, and thinking it was his companions, followed the sound.
Browne finds himself entering a Roman-style ampitheatre, apparently in use as a theatre. He catches a glimpse of movement, sees a gun aimed from behind a pillar and dives for cover as a flurry of pistol shots come his way. He calls out, and his assailant breaks cover and runs for the exit. It is a portly middle-aged man in a tweed suit and tie. The click of hammer on chamber shows he is out of ammunition. Browne intercepts the man, tries to tackle him and receives a pistol blow to the temple in return.
Browne reels away, dazed, but his assailant, recognising Browne as just a man (and a Brit, at that) calms down and apologises, introducing himself as Quentin Spence. “Quentin Spence the poet?” asks Browne. The man confirms that this is indeed he. Spence is pleased to be recognised and explains that he’s had enough of this place and was trying to leave. He’d come here at Edwards’ instructions, being a member of the Hastur ‘brotherhood’ for some time, but he had seen monsters and horrors here that were more than his bargained for. He explains that Edwards has been attempting to summon The King in Yellow, somehow harnessing repeated performances of the play for power, but thus far has only succeeded in calling up more flying creatures and other horrible monstrosities.
At this point Browne notices the legs of a corpse sticking out from behind a piece of scenery, a local in carnival gear and a bird mask, dead from a bullet wound to the head. He turns to find Spence backing slowly towards an exit. Browne advances angrily on Spence demanding that he explain his actions. Spence levels his gun at Browne again, says “I've reloaded it. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to kill him – just let me leave”. Browne continues to advance, telling Spence he can leave, but not with the gun as he fears that Spence cannot be trusted with it. Spence drops the gun and scuttles away. Unfortunately, as Browne suspected, he was bluffing and had not reloaded the gun after all. Browne now wanders the streets of Carcosa alone and unarmed.
Withers soon encounters a group of locals, Carcosan revellers, masked as they all are. One of these locals, a leatherworker named Noss takes an interest in Withers and offers to be his guide. He can take him to a place where he can be reunited with his companions, or to the lakeside where a boat the the Palace can be procured, or to see the ‘other outsider’, who can be found at the Scultpure Museum. Withers asked about this man and from the description he is given realises that it is probably Alexander Roby, He asks to be taken the the Sculpture Museum.
Crossing the canal through a tunnel, Saunders and Bartlett find themselves in an area of narrow winding residential streets. The catch a distant glimpse of what appears to be the Stranger from the play, head in his direction and eventually come upon the gardens surrounding the Sculpture Museum, where they encounter Withers and Noss, who have just arrived.
Poor Nathaniel Browne wanders Carcosa alone, unaware of any of this.
The Sculpture Museum
Noss leads the investigators towards the small white building at the centre of a garden full of many fantastic works of sculpture, including a medusa, a perfect simulacrum of a cypress tree standing beside its living twin and, immediately outside the entrance to the building, four creatures like the Springer Mound Monsters which turn out not to be statues at all, but the real thing, bound here for centuries.
A doorway leads to a concourse and a great stairway leading into the first of a network of great underground galleries. Noss leads the way past two enormous and beautiful dioramas of New York City, one current and one futuristic, through a gallery of thousands of whistles from many times and cultures, each similar in its own way to the cult's bone whistles and via many other strange sights. In one gallery Andrew Saunders finds an unfinished clay man that reminds him of Nathaniel Browne. Eventually they discover a circular study hall.
Once inside, they find Roby, initially napping, but easily wakened and now apparently sane and rational, he greets Bartlett and is happy to discuss whats happening. He has brought Carcosa to Earth by writing it into being and now he can life here eternally. The city will remain on Earth for 4 more days before it leaves, taken with it all who remain. The rest of the cult are staying in the Palace, where they are enjoying the Queen's hospitality, but Roby wanted some solitude.
Noss tells them that Roby’s friends, lead by Edwards have been summoning creatures such as the one they saw in the woods - Roby recognises these as the Spawn of Hastur, and that a great flock of flying creatures, which Roby calls byakhee are also present. Roby realises Edwards is trying to call the King in Yellow, which is impossible in this place (Roby wrote a flaw into the city when he created it) and doing so will bring Hastur in a terrible form that’ll kill everyone. Roby decides to head the Palace to talk to Edwards – the others come with him.
The Lake of Hali
Roby leads everyone to the lakeside, where they are pleased to find Browne at the wharf. Across the Lake the roof of the palace is covered in hundreds of byakhee, but nonetheless they find a boat and start throw across the lake. Noss, unwilling to defile the palace with his presence, bids his farewell and stays ashore.
Halfway across a Spawn surfaces, dives under the boat and knocks it heavily, pitching Withers and Saunders into the Lake. They are able to grab onto oars and save themselves, and only Bartlett gets a clear view as the creature breaks the surface off the stern and dives back into the depths. An hour or so later the boat reaches the crowded palace wharf and the investigators enter the massive and complex Palace of Cassilda.
In the Palace
Inside the palace they travel through many halls and corridors, seeing occasional glimpses of revllers under they come across the corpse of a cook, his throat slashed, and Withers sees Coombes bloody knife in hand, fleeing the scene.
As the investigators move on through a long gallery, Coombes appears on a balcony high above the party and taunts them. Browne retorts in kind, reminding Coombes of his failure to protect Bacon. It appears that being here has sent Coombes over the edge and he is now using the palace as a private hunting ground.
A few rooms later a young noblewoman, Yolanda runs straight into Withers. She apologises but says that a tall man with a knife was chasing her. They here Coombes' footsteps hurrying away down the corridor. Yolanda asked the investigators where they are going, and offers to help them find the terrace where the visitors are performing their play - a play they are performing for the fourth consecutive evening. The investigators realise that time is unreliable here, as it should not yet be dark. The view through the windows, however, shows alien stars in a black sky.
Yolanda leads them to a room overlooking the terrace where Edwards and his friends are acting out a version of "the King in Yellow" for an audience of hundreds of strangely silent byakhee. As a part of the play Edwards is being repeatedly struck with a sword, blood flying everywhere, but his wounds heal almost instantly. Roby explains that he’s been able to do this since Springer Mound, and that he seems to like it. Saunders wants to use the Chime of Tezchaptl to interrupt the play, but Roby says this will bring the byakhee down on them – he is sure that Hastur is not coming just yet and wants a chance to talk to Edwards.
The investigators agree to wait, and watch as the play concludes and another Spawn is summoned from he waters of the Lake. Yolanda suggests everyone retire to her chambers. By now she's openly flirting with an extremely uncomfortable Withers.
Tuesday December 11th - Roby's Plans
Alexander Roby tells the others to get some rest – he needs to go and see Edwards alone. He leaves and returns an hour later, furious – Edwards means to go through with it and won’t listen to reason. Roby says he needs to consider the answer. A little later he asks to borrow a revolver, and is given one. Bartlett is instantly worried by his manner and does not allow him to leave the room.
“Sorry, Bartlett it’s the only way", Roby makes to shoot himself. Roby explains that if he dies, Carcosa will leave the Earth and Edwards’ plan will fail. There follows a tense scene where the investigators try to talk him out of suicide, which is finally resolved when they come up with an alternate plan. Roby can have the Chime of Tezchaptl and try to use that first. If it fails, suicide is still an option.
The rest of the day is spent waiting for the next performance of ‘The King in Yellow’ as Roby reads the Turner Codex so he can learn the usage of the Chime. As the time comes, Roby tells the investigators they cannot come with him, He’s told Yolanda how to get them out of Carcosa and he's asked her to take them immediately. If they don’t follow they will be trapped in Carcosa when it leaves Earth. Feeling guilty at leaving him to face his fate alone, but also feeling powerless to do otherwise, the investigators follow Yolanda through the palace to a garden containing a maze – she leads them inside, but Coombes has been following.
Within the maze, Yolanda loses her way and walks into an ambush. She is assaulted by Coombes, but his knife misses, grazing the ear of Withers instead as he pulls Yolanda down. Combes turns to flee and is winged by a shot from Withers' pistol, but vanishes into the maze.
At this point the howls of a thousand byakhee come from the Lake and the city begins to shake – Roby has succeeded. The investigators, realising they have little time, hurry to reach the centre of the maze, where a stone mosaic of the Yellow Sign is found.
Browne steps onto it and disappears, but Yolanda reveals she cannot follow. Withers steps through, then Saunders and Bartlett realise that if they go through, Yolanda will be trapped with Coombes. Bartlett, badly shaken, apologises and leaves. Saunders decides to leave her armed and hands his shotgun to Yolanda, as he tries to explain its use, Coombes arrives.
“Hello Andrew” he says, “ready to play with the big boys?” and he throws a knife in front of Saunders. Yolanda is staring at the gun in her hands, with no apparent idea of its function, so a knife fight starts. Unfortunately Coombes is very good, and Saunders isn’t. Saunders feels Coombes' sharp blade enter his side, falls back onto the mosaic and hears the blast of a gunshot just as he passes back into his own world.
The investigators find themselves in the enclosed kitchen garden of Mullardoch House as Carcosa shimmers and blinks out of existence around them. Saunders is badly hurt, so Withers and Browne enter the house to find a telephone. in the hall they find the hideously burned and twisted corpse of Edwards, hurled back into this world when the energy of the spell was turned back on him by Roby's use of the Chime.
As Browne picks up the phone, Withers sees the corpse start to shift and transform, rising seconds later as a humanoid horror with boneless arms – matching the description of the Canal Monster (which they guess must have been Lawrence Bacon, similarly resurrected). Withers fires several revolver shots at the thing with little visible effect and it closes on Browne, who is cornered.
Suddenly Bartlett rushes in with a garden fork and pins the Edwards thing to the wall. The suckers on the end of its boneless arm engulf the side of the Doctor’s head and half of Bartlett’s face is torn away just as Withers puts a well-aimed rifle bullet straight through its brain.
Edwards dies, for good this time, his corpse reverting to its former ruin.
Bartlett is saved from the brink of death by Withers’ first aid skills, and help is called for.
The investigators have been left with a warning from Roby. Unlike Edwards, Malcolm Quarrie knows what he’s doing. He plans to call the King in Yellow to Earth and must be found, and stopped. With Bartlett and Saunders seriously injured and hospitalised, and the authorities in search of explanations, Quarrie will have to wait.
The investigators are taken to Inverness, two of them to hospital, two for questioning by the police. It is a long night for everyone involved.
Continue to Session 9.
Link to come...