Joined: 20 Jan 2006
|Posted: Wed May 31, 2006 4:19 pm Post subject: Tatters of the King - episode 3
The mystery of “Carcosa” grows deeper. The past few days have seen inexplicable coincidences and oddities. I myself have not been unaffected.
It began when I accompanied Ms Hewart to an exhibition. She had already described to me vivid dreams that somehow seemed connected to Estus’ play. I had put this down to her being of an artistic temperament and having spent too long immersed in the production of “Carcosa”. But I began to change my mind when I saw the exhibition was of paintings of an ancient city above a lake. The pictures bore an air of quiet dread and one might have shown a masked ball.
After we finished looking at the paintings I took Ms Hewart back to my studio. The exhibition had drained my passion and with it went my longing to caress that long, red hair. Instead I took to my easel and asked Ms Hewart to describe her dreams to me. I wanted to draw out her visions in the hope that once exorcised onto the canvas they would trouble her no longer. She told me of sea creatures swimming through the air, but nothing I painted could capture their essence.
I told Dr Quigley of the exhibition and he went that afternoon with Keats, Hunt and Dr Winstanley. On the way Keats noticed graffiti on a bus-seat. It read “the King will come this winter.” The chill autumn air took on another layer of cold when Keats told me of this.
Once Ms Hewart left I pottered around in the studio trying to find the essence of her visions. I searched around for inspiration and found a canvas I had painted some years ago and then revised again recently. It was a canvas I had almost completely forgotten about. The original had simply shown a river, but in my revised version it showed a lake and the bank had been expanded into an ancient city. Figures walked the city’s cobbled streets and I had given the faces a wash of white paint which made them appear ethereal and distant.
It was a painting that sent shivers down my spine. I can barely even remember painting it.
After he returned home from the exhibition, Dr Winstanley’s wife told him that a skinny man with a pointy nose had been snooping around the house. The description matched that of the man Ms Hewart had caught inside my flat.
We all met up again in the evening. We had an appointment with Mr Graham Roby, Mr Alexander Roby’s brother. Our arrival to the meeting was delayed by a man blocking the street and shouting that “the King is coming” over and over again. Dr Quigley approached the man and he ran off.
Mr Roby was displeased by our late arrival and unhelpful in his advice. He is a proud man and does not wish to be blighted by having his mad brother released from the asylum. He did help us fill in some names however and told us of Malcolm Quarrie and a man named Edwards who he felt had led his brother astray. He also told us of Ms Delia Hartson and named her as a “bad influence”.
After the interview we returned to our homes for the night, but agreed to meet at Keats’ apartment for breakfast. We thought we should make something of a practice of this and agreed to meet each morning at the same venue. The five of us who attended the play have bonded closely over the strange coincidences we have witnessed since. It seems only logical that we should continue to meet and discuss our experiences in an effort to get to the bottom of whatever is happening. To some degree this appears to have overtaken our original aim, which was to determine whether Alexander Roby should be released from the asylum.
At our first breakfast Keats told us of a poem submitted to his magazine he had read the night before. He said it was a terrible piece, long and florid. He had already decided that it was not worth publishing when he read a line containing the name “Hastur”. Hastur was the moving city that the people of Carcosa feared in Estus’ play. Keats took the name of the author, a Mr George Dermot Crowe and – in the moment of stimulation decided to publish a letter in the Times asking all people who had dreamed of Carcosa, Hastur or the King in Yellow to contact him.
Some of us thought Keats’ actions were preposterous and would only serve to bring scorn upon him – and by association us. By the end of the day these thoughts had been displaced with a dreadful expectation that the response to the letter may overwhelm us.
After we had breakfasted and debated Keats’ actions, we set off to find Malcolm Quarrie, one of the “bad men” Mr Roby had described. We found his flat, but his landlady told us that he had gone overseas and could not be contacted.
In the afternoon I arranged for a medium to conduct a séance to try and contact Ms Deliah Hartson – who we could not track down. I invited Keats and Hunt and the experience has chilled us all. The medium made no direct contact with Ms Hartson, but while she worked Hunt, Keats and I all witnessed a powerful vision. The wall behind the medium turned into a dark open plain. On that plain we could see three figures – two men and one woman – with their backs to us. Beyond them a man in tattered robes stood. Somehow this man seemed to sense our presence because he began to turn to face us. At this point Hunt screamed and broke hands with us. The vision vanished and we were all left shaken – Hunt in particular.
I had a terrible dream that night. I was on a boat on a lake. It was a peaceful place, but I slowly became aware of sea-creatures beneath my boat. All of a sudden one broke through the water and I woke with a sweat, convinced I had just seen one of Ms Hewart’s creatures. I spent the rest of the night painting my vision in a frenzy. The image I have painted fills me with fear.
At our group breakfast the next morning we were shocked to read in the Times that Mr Roby’s GP, Dr Trollope, had been murdered. We had spoken to Dr Trollope not two days earlier and I had marked the man dull. Hearing of his death shocked me and caused me to feel callous and unkind.
Dr Quigley told us that he had sensed Dr Trollope was hiding something from us when we met, and that he had spoken with him after the rest of us had departed in a vain attempt to get the man to talk.
Dr Trollope was killed in St James’ park and the Police were appealing for help. Keats left at once for the park but discovered little. The rest of us decided to speak to the Police. They were grateful we had come in because they had our details from Dr Trollope’s wife. We told them what we could, though I fear it was little enough.
The Police inspector (DI Taylor) told us that the good doctor had been stabbed through the heart by a tall man in a dark coat. This man was later seen with a shorter, stouter accomplice and it seems Trollope had snatched a piece of shoe lace from one of him.
After we left the station, I visited Ms Hewart and showed her my painting. The image made her fearful and sullen and I suspect I have captured (and seen) what she saw in her visions. Our parting was marred by the mood and I sense she will call on me no longer.
Mr Graham Roby got in touch and told us he had found an address for Ms Delia Hartson. She had married and now lives as a Mrs Morrison in Enfield. We set off to visit her and found her a pretty, but cowed woman. I suspect her new husband beats her.
Mrs Morrison (nee Hartson) told us little. She said she and Roby had been engaged but she had broken it off when his interest in the occult took him into the circle of men she did not trust. She named these men as Coombs, Edwards and a Mr Lawrence Bacon. She said Roby had met these men through an ad in “Occult Magazine” and that she left Roby after he tried to persuade her to join them for a gathering on a hill in Suffolk (somewhere called Clare Melford perhaps?) in December 1925.
It seemed clear that Mrs Morrison was no bad influence so we thanked her for meeting with us and returned to London. We had not left empty handed however, for we hope that contacting Mr Bacon might lead us a step closer to finding what caused Roby’s madness and the death of his father and sister.
On our return Dr Quigley found a letter in his box from the deceased Dr Trollope. It must have been posted only shortly before his murder. This letter told Dr Quigley of a visit Dr Trollope made to Roby in the asylum. Trollope had read a passage from Roby’s book and then collapsed. He awoke to find a nurse standing over him and Roby sadly saying “I am very sorry doctor, I cannot change what you saw.” Trollope said what he saw was himself walking through St James’ park when a sharp-faced tall man accosted him and stabbed him. The very vision of his death!
Both Police and Trollope mentioned a paperboy. Perhaps the boy can tell us something?
Trollope’s letter also told us that he thinks Roby knows how his father and sister died. He said Mr Graham Roby believed Mr Lawrence Bacon was involved and that he had hired a private detective (a Mr Vincent Tuck of Wapping) to track Mr Bacon down. Mr Tuck had reported that Mr Bacon was an occultist and antique dealer with premises in Liverpool Road, Islington. Dr Trollope also told us that the madness bears no relation to Roby’s courtship of Mrs Morrison (nee Hartson).
I wonder why Mr Graham Roby had told us of Mrs Morrison and named her as the “bad influence”, but had neglected to mention Mr Bacon? To me this seems more than odd, it seems most suspicious. I am left with no trust of Mr Graham Roby.
My favourite roleplaying memory - "Daisy at Colonus", two drunk cowboys and a pantomime cow in a 'reinterpretation' of Sophocles greatest play.