Tatters of the King, Book 1: The Madman

Game Master James Keegan

The stars are right. Hastur's gaze gains brief focus upon the Earth, and things change.

A summary and the facts of the case, as of 31 October, 1928

-On October 17th, each of you went to see an amateur theater group in West London ("The Group") perform a play by the novelist Talbot Estus. The play, entitled "The Queen and the Stranger"- a dreamlike play with surreal elements, concerning the city of Carcosa and the coming of a Stranger. At the arrival of the King in Yellow in the second act, after the Stranger reveals the Yellow Sign the audience riots.
-Upon further reflection- each of you saw a different version of Act One, Scene 3
-You met the eccentric Talbot Estus after the play- Estus reveals that he adapted the Queen and the Stranger from "The King in Yellow"- an older, even more notorious play.
-Some of the actors- Walter Paige, Jean Hewart and Hannah Keith remark that they have experienced alarming dreams since rehearsing the play.
-Under the light of Aldebaran, the red star in the constellation Tauros, Lucian and Victor begin to experience disturbing dreams that leave them restless- but inspired. While Victor resists the strange inspiration, Lucian embraces it and goes overnight from a competent dabbler to an incredible artist.
-The Scala's manager, Mr. Noble, has cancelled all future performances of "The Queen and the Stranger".
-Meanwhile, Spencer has begun to see the young Miss Hewart, going so far as to meet her father- a very highly placed judge in the King's court, and Martin began consulting with his Spiritualist friend Pamela Winthrop and the parapsychologist Grayson Snow.
-After a meeting with Mr. Estus and his roomate/friend/editor Mr. Michael Gillen, the four of you discuss the King in Yellow's powers of inspiration. Estus plans to adapt the piece into a novel- Lucian borrows Estus' copy.
-Occasionally Lucian, Victor and Spencer note graffiti referring to the King in Yellow both on the East End and on the docks near the Thames.
-The weather grows colder and colder as October continues.
-Martin receives a letter from Dr. Charles Highsmith on October 19th; the doctor would like to enlist the author's aid in a consultation
-Victor, Lucian, Walter, Martin and Spencer meet at Grayson Snow's apartment for an experiment- an attempt to measure the dreams' effects on their psyches. While attached to Mr. Snow's machine, Spencer experiences a dream- subsequent nights, however, are free of interference. Neither Grayson nor Martin experience a dream.
-Meeting with Dr. Highsmith, Martin and Spencer learn of "Patient W" and the circumstances of his commitment at St. Agnes' Asylum after the mysterious murder of his father and sister.
"Patient W" (Alexander Roby) is set to have his commitment reviewed at the end of November; Doctor Highsmith enlists the investigators to unearth biographical details on Alexander while he was at liberty to fill in his case and discovering his brother and family doctor's resistance to his release.
-Lucian experiences a waking vision on the way to his friend's art studio.

Alexander Roby- the murder and the madness

-Dr. Highsmith believes Alexander's scotophobia relates to the murder of his father, Herbert and his sister, Georgina, on October 14th, 1926.
-Alexander confessed to the murder in a state of grief and despair.
-Interviews with Inspector John Stephens and his junior, Detective Inspector Lorimer at Scotland Yard determines that: Alexander's glass balcony had been broken from the outside, both Herbert and Georgina were discovered in the downstairs drawing room accessed by a hallway door which had been smashed down; Herbert's body showed a gaping stab wound above the left collar bone and was completely drained of blood, Georgina was slain with two slicing wounds- one to the front torso and one to the neck and head; one blow was left-handed, one was right handed, both made by heavy bladed instruments; both bodies suggest the attacker was extremely strong and forensics experts agree that two separate instruments were used on the victims; no murder weapons were found, nor were there foot or fingerprints.
-Alexander claims to have been home all night; he did not say how his window was broken, nor could he explain what had happened to his father and sister beyond confessing to his culpability.
-Detectives found it unlikely that Roby could have committed the murders: his frame is not nearly powerful enough to inflict such wounds, no murder weapon or blood was found on his person.
-Attempts to reach Alexander's brother Grahame were unsuccessful- by letter, he simply informed Martin and Spencer to call upon the police or the family doctor, Lionel Trollope.
Victor runs into some difficulty interviewing the staff at the funeral home where the Robys were prepared.
-Lucian has some success in contacting Grahame Roby's cook, Mrs. Vetch.
-Mrs. Vetch relates that Alexander worked in the Foreign Office after dropping out of college but did not remain there; Alexander did not get along well with his father or brother, but dearly loved his sister; the artistic and sensitive Alex was seen as a layabout by his brother and father; on the night of the murder, Alexander quarreled with Herbert- this was not uncommon; the bodies were discovered by Mrs. Vetch, Mr. Lowell the butler, Mr. Dodd the valet and Ms. West, the housekeeper; all doors and windows were secured from the inside, as per Mr. Herbert Roby's instructions as he was paranoid about burglaries; about five minutes before the disturbance both Mr. Lowell and Ms. West heard a shrill whistle; a whistle was found in Alexander's room and when the detective blew the whistle, it sounded similar to the one heard before the murders.
-Interviewing Doctor Trollope: Martin and Spencer meet with Dr. Lionel Trollope before the trip to St. Agnes' Asylum; Dr. Trollope has been the Roby family doctor for over thirty years.
Dr. Trollope was called to the house after the murders occurred; his observations of the scene are consistent with the police report; Alexander declared to Dr. Trollope that it was he who had killed Herbert and Georgina- he would not explain how; in Dr. Trollope's opinion Alexander was hysterical with grief over his sister's fate and was committed on Order of Petition by Dr. Trollope and Grahame Roby after a brief period in police custody
Dr. Trollope visited Alexander twice, and felt he was unfit to leave as he was still disturbed by the incident; it is Dr. Trollope's opinion that asylums are for locking away the insane to protect "the rest of us". At this point, the doctor concluded the interview.
-At St. Agnes', Alexander Roby was uncommunicative- but he grew excited at the mention of the Yellow Sign. See the transcript of the interview for specifics.
-That night, Lucian experiences an odd dream- different from his previous ones- and a sickly sweet, rotting smell.
-While Dr. Highsmith is taken aback by your decision, he agrees not to recommend Alexander for release.

Transcript of the Roby interview- as provided by Dr. Charles Highsmith

Being locked in this room is inconvenient. It means I cannot finish my work and so I cannot go where I would like to go. You know, few writers have the ability to write honestly. Truths are used for entertainment only and this is a strange concept: it barely grazes what is of import. Such a writer is like a man whose only concern is to hide his ignorance. Willful misrepresentation, a shut mind, closed eyes, a tight mouth and balled fists. It's not enough to have the ability, bring your intellect to bear like a light in the darkness, like a sane man in a world of madmen.
Have you seen the pallid mask? Have you been down by the lake and seen the beauty and felt the rightness of it all? Edwards said to work only with him. Are you with Quarrie? Why are they not here? Is it this year, once in five thousand years? Has Quarrie brought the king in yellow? Is he already amongst us?
Have you seen the yellow sign?
What Edwards and I are doing now harms no one. But I have been worrying about Malcolm Quarrie and the conversations we had. I think that, despite what Edwards might think, Quarrie is right. The king in yellow has called himself the white acolyte. I don't think he will stay away. So here is a kindness I would like you to pass on to him for when he sees that the king does not offer him what he hopes. To divert the king's attentions away from our Earth and back upon the dream city he must think of Cassilda's song:

The stars that burn their charcoal death
Shrink back, they feel the hoary breath
Of he who ransoms great Carcosa.
He flees where queen and prophet met,
Where twin suns fall but never set,
Escapes the tomg of lost Carcosa.

Patient: A. Roby
Doctor: L. Trollope
Signed: C. Highsmith
Date: 30 October, 1928