XIX Tatters of The King Book I
NOVEMBER IV DCCCXCVII
The Viri of Liberportus (Titus Decius Pullox, Gaius Severus Commodus, Lucius Aemilius Rufus, Zahur Quaashie, and Etrusicus Superbus Invicti) receive a letter from their acquaintance Abudius Pupius Eucharis urging them to come to his villa outside Athens. There he is running a rest home for the mentally insane called the Villa of Mania and wishes to the PCs to give their opinion about the ravings and stability of a patient named Alexander Pulcher. They arrive on the XI.
After arranging an inn stay in Athens they head to the villa to investigate and examine Alexander. He was sent to the villa V years ago after the murders of his father and sister to which he confessed. Usually Eucharis would do the evaluation himself but there are some peculiarities to the Pulcher case which made him consider the PCs. Pulcher suffers from intense nightmares during the winter months and often speaks of completing his work for a “King in Yellow.” Currently he is sedated with laudanum but is able to converse. After a minute of prodding he speaks.
His rambling speech confirms the PCs fears and exposes himself of being a worshipper of The King in Yellow. On the heels of this troubling revelation is the information regarding a murder in the asylum committed a year ago by Pulcher’s cell-neighbor, a man named Lucius. From the mad Lucius they ascertain little other than that the “true” murderer was a bloody demon. Precious time is spent interrogating the soft-minded prisoner and they leave him be after they realize he has no grasp of what he speaks of. His demands for peacocks and porpoises are also unbefitting a sane gentleman. A guard and attendant within the Villa Mania, a man called Marcus, speaks to Gaius Severus Commodus but little is gained from the interaction.
Eucharis asks the PCs to go into the city of Athens and find and speak with Lysander Trebonias, the man who is to present Alexander’s case to the magistrates of Athens on the XXX day of November.
The PCs meet with a visibly worried Trebonias who affirms that Pulcher is in no state to be released. Trebonias elaborates slightly on Alexander’s past history but there is nothing very surprising. That night Trebonias is murdered in the Lower City on the Eridanos. Titus has a horrifying nightmare.
First thing in the morning the PCs are visited by Artorius Herennius, a civil servant investigating Trebonias’ death. They are told by him not to leave the city and to be available for further questioning. Later in the day the PCs receive a letter from the deceased Trebonias, written shortly after their departure from his home. From it, leads can be gathered and the PCs begin a full-scale investigation. Late that night, when Lucius excuses himself to an alley to make water he is attacked by a tall, thin, man; possibly the same man described by Trebonias in his dream.
NOVEMBER XIV to XVIII
Their investigation takes them all over Athens and beyond. In the city they interview Servius Chaerea, with whom Alexander has had some past occult dealings, Gaius Pulcher, Alexander's brother, Delia of the Caecilii, once Alexander's fiancé, and Vibius Avidius Cassius.
Through their sources they are led to the small village of Akaia where Lissenius Proculus, Alexander Pulcher, Servius Chaerea, and Naevius Sejanus were said to have visited shortly before Alexander’s madness. In Akaia they view massive monoliths with words of praise to The King in Yellow etched into the stone, a farmer ripped in twain, and an innkeeper becoming a meal for a star steed.
Upon their return from Athens they find waiting for them, a letter from Tiberius Haterius Datus telling the PCs of his opposition to the cult of The Unspeakable One, of which he is a member. He reveals when Servius Chaerea will be away from his home so that they may strike him down. He wishes them luck and promises to write again. No return address is given.
The investigators from Liberportus shadow Chaerea until they witness him drain the life from a vagrant. They attempt to stop the abominable ritual but Chaerea returns the attacks and… changes. Changes into a fleshy mass “gifted” to those deemed worthy by the Unspeakable One. The fight is near fatal for the PCs but they are no strangers to bloody combat and slay the servant of the alien god.
Tiberius Haterius Datus sends a second, more effusive letter to the investigators. In it he mentions Lissenius Proculus and the woman under Menander Leonus’ influence who seems to be Proculus’ wife. He also talks of an upcoming event of great significance.
The Magistrates of Athens decide that Pulcher is too great a risk to be set free. He is sentenced to lifetime confinement within the Asylum.
That night Abudius Pupius Eucharis is found murdered and Alexander, the prime suspect, goes missing. Also missing from the Asylum is Marcus, the orderly.
DECEMBER I – VIII
After a week of fruitless investigations the PCs retrieve a letter from Delia of the Caecilii. It is from Alexander and he asks her to come to her at Sejanus' villa at Lake Copais in the North.
A last minute addition to the speech of a crier reading the Acta Diurna of Athens crucially mentions Servius Chaerea as the Lord of Lake Copias. Investigation as to the source of the obituary in the Acta Diurna leads to a the priest of a local cult of Bacchus, the deceased Achaicus. The amazed and horrified PCs attempt to pump him for information but they are repulsed by his manners. Though they find Achaicus unpleasant they accept an invitation of his to a party in the Acropolis that night.
The party is debauched and vulgar but when Achaicus is done reveling he explains that some years ago, when last he was in Athens, he led a cult of Bacchus whose membership included both Sejanus and Pulcher. It was in his circle that the two men first met. And if they are working together in the service of the Unspeakable One they will be at Lake Copias. The stars are right.
They approach Lake Copias at dusk and a thick fog obscures their surroundings. What is visible is some kind of gate, and through it a beautiful, alien city which defies imagination. More color and beauty and splendor than Rome, illuminated by the golden rays of two suns setting and never sinking. The PCs, for better or worse, the Romans realize that they are in the dream city Carcosa.
They wander as if in a dream, going forward and always backwards, chasing crowds around corners only to find dead ends.
One Carcosan is finally cornered and is friendly. He is called Noss. He explains that the people of Yhtill is excited to the point of mania because there is a stranger in the city. The same phrase the lost little girl repeated before the city of Vestalanium. He offers them a bag out of which they may take a mask, for all are dressed gaily on this unexpected occasion. Gaius pulls a glowering red mas of Anger. Titus, the Soldier, full of bluster and pride. Etrusicus, the divine visage of Iupater. Lucius takes a parade mask, polished to a mirror finish. And Zahur receives a mask of thick green glass.
Noss takes them to the museum of art where he thinks they will find what they are searching for. What they find, much to their surprise and confusion, is a very lucid Alexander Pulcher. Pulcher explains that he intends to dwell forever within Carcosa but is deeply disturbed by their tale of the plans of Sejanus. With Alexander in tow they cross the lake on which Yhtill sits in order to reach the palace, where Pulcher believes the Sejanus is planning to summon Hastur. This greatly unnerves Alexander as Hastur does not belong in Carcosa, the King in Yellow does but not Hastur, not the being of entropy itself.
The palace is grand and glorious and within they meet the beautiful Lady Yolanda who guides them to the throne room. Through the glass walls of the throne room they can spy the vast upper balcony where Sejanus and many other cultists appear to be staging the play The King in Yellow to a captive audience of uncountable byakhee. The sky is literally black with byakhee. An assault is all the PCs can think of but Alexander thinks he can take Sejanus alone and asks for a sword. He smiles, asks them to tell Delia that he loves her, and plunges the blade into his heart. Carcosa lurches and Sejanus turns. The Byakhee swarm and Hastur appears. Etrusicus and Lucius lose their minds, Gaius faints, and Titus and Zahur shed tears of horror at the majesty and impossibility of that which is It. Alexander's death assures the destruction of Carcosa and the PCs must flee the city that is in the process of no longer being. Miraculously they succeed and are able to leave through the gate from whence they entered. Lady Yolanda, the woman from the dream city shrieks in panic and abhorrence and begins smacking her face into the shore rocks until her face is a red ruin. She dies soon after. The investigators, half-mad, collapse on the dark beach- physically, emotionally, and mentally spent.