Arcanis: Gonnes, Sons, and Treasure Runs (COMPLETED) - Page 49
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    The Last Resort - Part 10d: Dirty Business

    The cleaning crew knocked on the door.

    Sebastian opened it. “There’s another corpse in there,” he said. He stiffly walked down to the bar and politely asked for a drink. Bobbin gave it to him.

    “Are you sure this is going to work?” asked Egil.

    “It better,” said Kham. He had carefully laid out all of his possessions on a table. The Last Resort was empty of all but a few. “Lucky for you, Baldric was grateful enough to give me Edward’s stolen artifacts. Also lucky for you, Falthar agreed to spot me the money up front for them. So now it’s time to deliver the goods in person.”

    “In person? But they’ll kill you!”

    Kham shrugged. “I don’t think so. I think Finn’s a reasonable man. So I’m going to try to be reasonable.” He strapped on a belt purse full of coins. “Just in case, I’m not going in with anything else of value.”

    Egil sighed. “Good luck. If I don’t see you again, thank you for doing all this.”

    “I owe you, Egil. I owe you and Lucius big. When I came to Freeport I didn’t know anybody. You two were the only ones who were willing to give me a chance.”

    “You sure you don’t want us to go with you?” Beldin twisted his axe in his grip. “I’m not afraid of crooks.”

    “Nah,” said Kham. “I need to do this alone. It’s better off if you don’t get involved.”

    “Be careful,” said Ilmarė. That was about as much affection as she showed anyone.

    Kham slowly walked down the steps, savoring each moment. The dawning sun was just peeking through the windows, shimmering across the docks. Kham passed Bobbin, who was wringing his hands.

    Henry Tranco, still awake from the night before, dropped a jingling purse in front of Bobbin. “Sorry about the mess,” was all he said as he walked out.

    Kham cursed Tranco and stopped in front of Bobbin. He looked down at the purse of coins. It wasn’t small. He looked back at Bobbin.

    “The work’s going to be extensive,” said Bobbin. “I don’t know how I’m going to pay for all this!”

    Kham sighed. He dropped another purse of coins next to Tranco’s.

    “That’s another thousand doubloons I lost to Tranco,” he said. Then he stepped out into the sunlight.

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    The Last Resort - Part 10e: Dirty Business

    The Finn Syndicate headquarters was a large building in the center of the Eastern District, right on the Field of Honor.

    Kham expected enforcers to shove him down an alley, blindfolded. Much to his surprise, he walked right through the double doors unmolested. A large sign read, “Undir Benevolent Association.”

    Inside was a row of pillars and steps leading up. The main pillared hallway continued to the left and a smaller hallway branched off to the right. A sign indicated where the offices were.

    Kham wasn’t sure if he was applying for an application or meeting with a crime boss. He knocked on the door labeled “Finn.”

    “Come in,” said a gravelly voice.

    Kham pushed open the door. Inside was a puffy, overweight val’Borda reading a document. He took off his pince-nez. “Kham, good to see you,” he said, as if he knew Kham all his life. “Come in.”

    Kham took a few tentative steps inside.

    “Have a seat.”

    He sat. It was then that he noticed the two large men wearing chainmail and longswords flanking the door.

    “You have come to me with a lot of money in your purse.”

    Kham was sweating. “Yes, Finn. I wanted to make amends on Egil’s behalf.”

    He took out the money pouches and placed them on the table.

    Finn acted as if they weren’t even there. “I like you Kham. I know what you did for Freeport. I think Milton Drac was a very bad man. And this whole nonsense with the Yellow Sign; very bad for business, you understand. Freeport is my home, and I don’t like to see it torn up like that.”

    “I understand,” said Kham.

    “That’s good, that’s good. But we have rules here, you know, or else it’s chaos. Complete chaos. Although I’m not a lawman myself, I like to keep the peace. And when someone fails to pay the debt they owe, I have to remind them of justice. It keeps order. You understand?”

    “Yeah, Finn.”

    “Good. I like Egil. He’s a good egg, that priest. Brothers of Althares do nothing but good for this place. Bring a little class to Freeport. So we only took his pinky. I knew you would come through for him.”

    “Uh, thanks, Finn.”

    “But this conflict with my men…they got hurt doing their job. If I let you get away with that, then I have difficulty getting more men. You understand?”

    Kham worried where this was going. He swallowed hard and nodded.

    “Come here,” said Finn. When Kham didn’t move, he waved him forward. “Lean forward, I want to see that trinket around your neck.”

    Kham mentally cursed himself. He was so worried about bringing objects of value that he had forgotten the political value of the Order of Drac. He leaned forward.

    Finn handled it with an open palm, flipping it this way and that. “This symbol you have, it’s very powerful. You flashed it around a few times. I understand that. Very bad business with that crazy play. But then, you did something you should not have done.”

    Finn yanked hard. The delicate chain snapped. He handed the amulet to one of his thugs.

    “That is payment for what you did. Now I want you to understand, this is unusual. Those were orcs. I don’t like them. But I hire them to keep the peace. They’re rebuilding the lighthouse in Freeport, and orc labor’s coming in by the boatloads every day. Orcs are messy. They have no respect for people. They get violent too fast. My men, they came too early to collect on Egil’s debt. So I am going easy on you today. You understand?”

    Kham rubbed his neck. “I do. Thank you.”

    Finn leaned back in his chair. Kham knew it was his cue to leave. He got up and made for the door, struggling not to run for it.

    “You’re a good kid, Kham val’Abebi. You keep your nose clean, you don’t shoot any more of the Sea Lord’s Guard, and you’ll go far. Stay away from snakes. We’ll talk again soon.”

    A chill ran up and down Kham’s spine. “See you soon, Finn,” was all he managed to get out.

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    The Last Resort - Conclusion

    Kham finally returned to The Last Resort. He was concerned that Fleshripper might make him do something rash, but its murderous urges were blessedly absent.

    Kham slumped into a chair with his other companions. Egil ran over to him. He hadn’t left the resort since the night before. “Well?”

    “The debt is repaid,” Kham said wearily. “Finn won’t try to kill you.”

    “Thank Althares!” shouted Egil. He nearly sobbed and hug Kham tightly. “Thank you!”

    “All right, get off me,” said Kham. “Bobbin, I need a drink.”

    Bobbin hurried off to get him a drink. They were surrounded by the sounds of hammering and sawing. Men were already working hard to put things back in order.

    He did a double take. The workers weren’t men; they were orcs.

    Kham turned back to the others. “Did you notice that…” he caught their dour expressions. “Don’t look so happy to see me.”

    Sebastian slid a book towards him. “This was on Talbot’s person.” Kham picked it up.

    It was a small book, six inches by four inches, with about one hundred pages. It was bound in all-white cloth, with a blank cover and spine. He opened it.

    The title page gave the title, author’s initial’s, date, press, and a dedication. The title was written in Milandisian: Der Wanderer durch den See.”

    “The Walker by the Lake,” said Kham. “So?”

    “Look at the initials,” said Ilmarė.

    “L.R.” said Kham. “Oh wait, don’t tell me…in those four years, he published a book?”

    “That’s right,” said Sebastian. “Lucius Roby published a book.”

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    Chapter 26: The Madman

    This is one of a series of adventures in the Cthluhu campaign, Tatters of the King, "The Madman," written by Tim Wiseman. You can read more about Arcanis at http://www.onaraonline.org. Please note: This adventure contains spoilers!

    Our cast of characters includes:

    • Dungeon Master: Michael Tresca (http://michael.tresca.net)
    • Beldin Soulforge (dwarf fighter) played by Joe Lalumia
    • Ilmarė Galen (elf bard/fighter) played by Amber Tresca
    • Kham Val’Abebi(val rogue/psychic warrior) played by Jeremy Ortiz (http://www.ninjarobotstudios.com)
    • Sebastian Arnyal (dark-kin sorcerer) played by George Webster
    • Vlad Martell (human fighter) played by Matt Hammer

    This is the first of a series of primarily role-playing scenarios. I mingled Black Sails Over Freeport with Tatters of the King, which makes for an interesting (if somewhat wacky) combination. I had fun connecting the dots between the two campaigns and sprinkling it with Arcanis-isms, but the overarching plot is yet to be fully realized. It will take another adventure or two to make it clear just what’s happening.

    Ironically, the most important character wasn’t Egil, Lucius Roby, or even Alexander Halliwell. It was Price, the Sea Lord Guardsman who was harassing Ilmarė from the last adventure. In Tatters of the King, Price does nothing but “shift his weight” and act as a security blanket for PCs who might not be fond of visiting a crazy man in a confined cell. But once the role-playing started I just rolled with it. Before we knew it, Price was Ilmarė’s ticket in to the Sea Lord’s Guard…whether she liked it or not.

    The other important part of this adventure is that Sebastian committed cold-blooded murder. He’s begun having nightmares (nightmares just for him from Tatters of the King), and when he wakes up…well, you’ll see.

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    The Madman - Prologue

    Faces looked up, pooled and expectant. Sebastian sat with the others, the violin pinched between chin and shoulder as he’d seen others do, his left hand on the strings. The music started up and the orchestra crashed into its brief life.

    Sebastian sensed that something was horribly wrong. The audience was applauding and calling out in the wrong places. The other musicians seemed to be competing with each other, sounding their instruments randomly.

    The conductor pointed at him. Sebastian glanced down at his music and there was the Yellow Sign—it writhed and squirmed and seemed ready to reach out at him. He had to assuage it. Hastily, he started to play to its rhythm, building the sound note by note.

    Sebastian was exultant. Working furiously, he crouched forward, balanced on the edge of his chair. He glimpsed the other members of the orchestra around him. They were no longer human.

    Creatures—still black—thin and strong, with wings and long heads, rows of long teeth. Sebastian’s fingers touched his palms; his instrument was gone.

    He was sitting on the edge of a round hole—he couldn’t see the bottom—and there were things falling down into it. One by one the creatures, his neighbors, dove in—they spread their wings out, and glided down.

    The conductor had changed. It was Talbot Estus, wearing tattered white robes that drifted in a wind that wasn’t there. He turned and pointed to Sebastian. Without a thought, he jumped.

    Down, down. He counted the seconds he had left. And in a brief, insane moment, it was the only act that ever mattered in his life.

    Sebatian woke up, drenched in sweat. Egil was standing his doorway.

    “Are you all…” Egil began, but then stopped. His eyes were wide. “I…I heard a scream.” Egil looked away.

    Sebastian took a few deep breaths and looked around. He was in the Temple of Althares. He had sought solace there to gather his thoughts and meditate, like he once did in Solanos Mor. Sebastian’s infernal heritage always haunted him, sometimes filling him with such murderous rage that it terrified even him.

    But this was different. Egil refused to look at him. Sebastian had hoped that he could cleanse himself of the taint of murder, of the insanity that was The King in Yellow.

    Something rustled at his back. And at that moment Sebastian realized how wrong he was.

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    The Madman: Part 1 – Interview With Egil

    The Temple of Althares was an impressive structure, its vaulted frame soaring up one hundred feet. Large bronze doors stood open, revealing a tiled atrium. Statues of Althares indicated that the chamber was the center of worship, but balconies lined with books reach all the way to the frescoed ceiling. It was as much library as temple, and the rows of silent scholars working in the balconies attested to that fact.

    Egil was waiting for Kham and his companions in a separate room, which was empty enough to offer privacy. He was solicitous of their comfort and made small talk about the weather before the tea he ordered arrived. Then he broached the subject at hand.

    “Thank you for coming. I know it’s been a rough week.”

    Kham ran one hand through his hair. “No problem, Egil.” If it weren’t for the priests of Althares, he wouldn’t have a hand at all.

    “We all owe you a debt,” said Beldin, stroking his beard. He seemed vigorous again. After the spiritual sacrificed he made in the Temple of Yig, the dwarf always looked drawn and haggard. Thanks to the Altharian priests ministrations, he was feeling like his old self.

    “I’m happy to let you work any way you deem effective, as long as the privacy of the matter and the good name of the Temple of Althares is maintained.”

    Ilmarė looked around. “Our connection to the Temple is well-known,” she said with a sneer. “I doubt the good name of your priesthood can sink any—“

    “We’ll be discreet,” Kham interjected, cutting the elorii off. “As much as we ever can be.”

    Egil nodded. “Kham, I know you once knew Lucius.”

    Lucius was Kham’s connection to Egil. Though the two were never close friends, they grew up in the same town in Coryan. It was Lucius who provided the common link between Kham and Egil, and it was Lucius who convinced Egil to take Kham in, so many years ago.

    “Since his incarceration, Lucius has suffered from night terrors, but I’m encouraged by his progress. I see no evidence of untreatable long-term insanity in Lucius; the brief and predictably spaced attacks have been controlled by strong sleeping drafts. Thanks to my influence, I have managed to get Lucius a stay of execution, but his retirement to The Tombs is due for review.”

    Egil paused, obviously concerned.

    “Judge Shamus McGowan will decide whether to release Lucius or keep him in The Tombs, but he is uneasy on one point. It concerns the stance of Lucius’ family. All communication on the case has been with Corinalous val’Abebi.”

    Kham blinked. “My dad?”

    Egil nodded. “Corinalous has been urging me by letter over the past month to keep Lucius committed. My sense is that Lucius’ brother, Grahame Roby, is leaning upon Judge McGowan to confine Lucius to The Hulks, but he will not speak directly about it. I’d like to know why he opposes Lucius’ release. “

    “You mean besides the fact that Lucius killed his father and sister?” Ilmarė inspected her fingernails, bored already.

    “That’s not been proven,” said Egil. He took a sip of his tea. “Would you intervene to hear Corinalous’ views? Unfortunately, Corinalous and I seem to have retreated into entrenched positions; perhaps your influence could move things. Also, I’d like you to speak with Lucius. I’m anxious to learn more about Lucius’ character while at liberty. Judge McGowan has agreed to reassess his own position in light of any new information, but I’m hopeful we can get Lucius released into the Temple’s care.”

    Kham flexed his restored arm. “We’ll do it.”

    “We will?” asked Vlad. “But how much are we going to get…”

    Kham shrugged. “Fine, I’ll do it alone then.”

    “Now wait a minute…” began Vlad.

    “Where’s Sebastian?” asked Beldin.

    Egil stopped in mid-sip. “He will be along. I will pass a message on for him to meet you when he is done with his…meditation.”

    Kham shrugged on his overcoat. “Speaking of notes, I think it’s time I sent a sending to pop.”

    “You never mentioned your dad,” said Vlad.

    “Yes,” said Kham. “We don’t talk much, not since I joined the moved to Freeport. But now seems like as a good as any.”

    Kham fidgeted with the emerald on his collar for a moment; it seemed as if he were going to say something else. Then he walked out of the room.

    “What’s his problem?” asked Ilmarė.

    “Families can be a touchy subject,” said Beldin. “I’ve learned that from being around Sebastian.”

    “Stupid humans,” muttered Ilmarė.

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    The Madman: Part 2 – Preparing for the Interview

    The Fortress of Justice was the main headquarters for the Sea Lord’s Guard, located in the Old City. The Fortress consisted of three separate buildings surrounded by a tall stone wall. The top of the wall was tipped with spikes, covered with pointed barbs.

    Entrance into the Fortress of Justice was through the main gate, located on Mollusk Street. It was the only entrance and exit to the compound. Two thirty-foot tall towers flanked the gate. Kham stood before a portcullis.

    The gate swarmed with relatives of the prisoners, as well as curiosity seekers, preachers, petitioners and protesters. Each and every one of them was screaming to get inside.

    “No word?” Vlad shouted to Kham over the din.

    “None,” said Kham. “But then, pop doesn’t always receive messages. It can take time before I hear anything.”

    “It doesn’t look like we’re getting inside,” said Ilmarė.

    Kham waved at a guard. After a few minutes of shouting and gesturing, a gap-toothed guardsman shoved his way over to him. He was tall, with one lazy eye, a hooked nose, and a few days of stubble.

    “Blimey! What 'ave we 'ere then? Look there, it's da bi' ov fluff what kicked me befawer. Couldn't keep away from me, could yew love? Know what I mean?”

    Ilmarė rolled her eyes. “Of all the guardsmen in the world, it had to be this guy.”

    Her comment sent off a snickering fit amongst the guards.

    “Aw, don’t be like that!” The guard puckered up. “Give me a kiss an' I'll let yew in.”

    Ilmarė reached for her thinblade.

    Kham put one hand on her shoulder. “Maybe we can use this to our advantage. Try, you know…being nice.”

    Ilmarė glared sideways at the val. “I don’t do nice.”

    “Try.”

    The elorii turned back to the guard. “Look. I’ve got this.” She held up the symbol of the Order of Drac. It was a medallion with a ship on it. “So why don’t you be useful and let us in.”

    The guard squinted at the medallion. “Now why didn't yew say so? Anythin' fer yew love!”

    Polearms were thrust through the gate, forcing the crowd backward. The portcullis was slowly winched upwards, enough to allow them entrance. The crowd shouted angrily, but the thicket of polearms kept them at bay.

    “That’s the Courts,” said Kham. He pointed to an official-looking building. Guardsman stood at the entrance.

    The prison guards gaze sullenly at them as they made their way to the Courts.

    “Who yew lookin’ for?” asked the guard.

    “You’re still here?” asked Ilmarė. “Don’t you have something better to you?”

    The guard grinned a gap-toothed grin. “Not a chance, love. You’re my responsibili'y while you’re in 'ere. I wouldn’t wan' anythin' awful ter 'appen ter you. Not unless yew asked first, anyway.”

    The guard led them to Judge McGowan’s office.

    Judge McGowan had brown hair with a trimmed beard and rather bushy eyebrows. His table was elevated, such that they had to crane their necks to look up at him.

    “Egil sent us to interview Lucius,” said Kham matter-of-factly. He kept his hands thrust in his pockets.

    McGowan sipped at some tea as he looked them over.

    “I won’t be attending the interview with Lucius today,” he said in a nasal drone. “I think it will be more fruitful if he sees people he can trust. However, I would like to get a transcription of Lucius’ interview, so my secretary, Mr. Reeves, will be present to take shorthand.”

    A thin, pinched man with steepled fingers stepped out from behind the desk.

    McGowan paused.

    “There are a couple of points of procedure to observe: Although Lucius is not dangerous, no sharp objects or writing utensils should be carried in. In addition, there will be a guard, Price, present in the cell with you at all times.”

    Price waved enthusiastically from the doorway. Ilmarė slapped her forehead.

    “Lucius should not be given any news of the outside world. I should warn you that he might say little and what Lucius does say may be irrelevant to what was asked. He has had little contact with others here at The Tombs.”

    “Right,” said Kham. Price led them out of the room.

    “Why no writing utensils?” asked Ilmarė. “Are they afraid he’ll write a nasty letter to the Captain’s Council?”

    “Let’s hope it’s not another budding playwright,” said Beldin.

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    The Madman: Part 3 – Interview With Lucius Roby

    The main prison in Freeport was located inside the compound and was known throughout the city as The Tombs. The building was made from solid brick. There was a main floor above ground, with bars on all the windows, and reinforced walls that were three-feet thick. The roof of the building was shaped like a massive and foreboding ziggurat.

    Inside, a guard stopped in his business and, staring at Kham, started to ask Price a question.

    “Not now, Evans.” Price kept walking, leaving the man looking at their backs.

    The prison cells were all located two floors underground. There were sixty cells on each floor, approximately eight feet by six feet, built to hold up to three prisoners, though several held more. The walls of the cells were constructed of large, stone blocks.

    The sound of footsteps and muted sobbing echoed back off bare stone corridors as Price led them to Lucius’ cell. He unlocked it and ushered them in.

    Lucius was dressed in a white canvas tunic and trousers. The room was tiny, dim, and chilly. There was a bed, table, and two chairs, and no possessions except for a stack of a dozen or so books on the table. A barred window gave a view of the sky.

    When they first entered, Lucius looked up.

    “Delia?” he asks.

    “Who’s Delia?” asked Kham.

    Lucius didn’t respond. He was hunched over, looking at his lap.

    Beldin took the time to scan the titles. “Hmmph,” said Beldin. “Never heard of these.”

    “They’re poetry,” said Ilmarė. “You should pick up a book some time.”

    “Being locked in this room is inconvenient,” said Lucius. His manner of speech was odd; the cadence was slow and irregular. “It means I cannot finish my work and so I cannot go where I would like to go.”

    “Go where?” asked Vlad.

    Lucius paused.

    “You know, few writers have the ability to write honestly. Truths are used for entertainment only and that 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.”

    He smiled ruefully to himself and was quiet.

    Kham edged closer to Lucius. “Lucius, you wrote a book. A book you published. Something about a Walker by the Lake?”

    The room became quite silent. Lucius tensed up, a feeling that somehow transmitted to the entire room. Even Price shifted his position by the door.

    Lucius started talking loudly, not leaving room for replies. “Have you been down by the lake and seen the beauty and felt the rightness of it all? Have you seen the pallid mask? Edwards said to work only with him. Are you with Livius?” He looked around, blinking in confusion. “Why are they not here? Is it this year, once in five thousand years?” He started shouting. “Has Livius brought the King in Yellow? Is he already amongst us?”

    Kham put both hands up. “Easy, Lucius, easy.”

    “Have you seen the Yellow Sign?” whispered Lucius.

    “More than once,” said Ilmarė.

    “What Edwards and I are doing now harms no one,” Lucius said in a monotone, without feeling. “But I have been worrying about Livius Carbo and the conversations we had. Despite what Edwards might think, I believe Livius is right. The King in Yellow has called himself the White Acolyte.”

    “That’s a new one,” said Vlad.

    Lucius stared at Vlad. “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 attention away from Arcanis 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 meet
    Where twin suns fall but never set
    Escapes the tomb of lost Carcosa.


    Ilmarė bit her lip. She stepped out of Lucius’ cell. Vlad followed her.

    “What?” asked Vlad.

    “Yet another amazing coincidence,” said Ilmarė.

    Beldin joined them. He locked gazes with her. “I know, I heard it too.”

    “Heard what?” asked Vlad.

    “That song,” said Ilmarė. “If Lucius hasn’t received any news of the outside world…”

    “Then how did he quote the exact lyrics from Talbot’s play?” finished Beldin.

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    The Madman: Part 4 – Interview With Alexander Halliwell

    “Blimey!” said Price. “Yew think that's good, yew should talk ter 'is neighbor.”

    “His neighbor?” asked Kham.

    “He's crazy, it's true. But then, I can never tell who's behind bars because they're crazy, us awer 'em. For instance, earlier dis year we 'ad a murder. That's right, Cuthbert Yates. Good fellow, I used ter play Three-Dragon Ante wiv 'im every week. He was seein' ter da needs ov Alexander Harriwell when da murder 'appened.”

    “In the cell next to Lucius?”

    Price nodded. “Yah. And if you’re real nice ter me, I might be able ter swin' an in'erview wiv 'im fer you.” He fluttered his eyes at Ilmarė.

    “I’m sure Ilmarė would be very grateful.” Kham leaned forward to whisper in Price’s ear. The guard’s eyes widened. He looked at Ilmarė and licked his lips.

    “Done then.” Price fumbled with the keys to Alexander’s cell and opened it.

    Ilmarė glanced sideways at Kham. “What did you tell him?”

    “Nothing,” said Kham.

    Although Alexander was straight jacketed, Price accompanied them into his cell.

    Alexander was fat-faced and powerfully, if flabbily, built. He was almost bald, and the remainder of his hair was close-cropped and white. Although he was always grinning, there was fear, not mirth, in his expression.

    “Go on, Hariwell. Tell da nice people what yew saw when Yates died.”

    Alexander described what he saw in extensive, gory detail. “The murder was performed by the devil,” he said in a giggly, high-pitched voice. “He ran red with blood. His own gaping wounds would have weakened and killed any man! His hands were blades, and he slashed himself, then the other man.” Alexander jerked his body this way and that. “One! Two! One! Two!” Only the other fell. He laughed all the while and he did other things. I was far too frightened to make out the face of the devil, but devils have many faces.”

    When they were back outside of his cell, Price smirked at them. “Told yew ‘e was barmy.”

    “And they blamed the murder on Harriwell?”

    “The murder scene 'ad enuff blood spilled there ter 'ave killed two men,” said Price. “An' what there were two blood types present. Two kitchen knives were found in da cell, an' a blood-soaked an' slashed guard’s unifawm was found in da laundry. Harriwell was covered in blood, but none ov i' was 'is.”

    “How did he get out?” asked Kham.

    “Nobody knows,” said Price. “The door ter Harriwell’s cell was unlocked. All The Tombs staff were examined an' found not ter be wounded. There doesn’t seem ter 'ave been a motive fer Yates’ dearf.” Price sighed. “Harriwell must 'ave been responsible an' da second victim must 'ave left da scene.”

    “Uh huh,” said Kham. His eyes darted about nervously. “And I killed Milton Drac.”

    Price laughed out loud. He clapped Kham on the shoulder. “That’s a good one!”

    “At this point, I think I agree with Lucius’ brother and your father,” said Ilmarė. “If Lucius is writing sonnets from The King in Yellow, I think we should let the human rot here.”

    “There’s more to this than we’re hearing,” said Kham. “But let’s get out of here. Prisons make me nervous.”

    “Why?” asked Beldin. “The construction isn’t too bad. The stone blocks are solid, cemented together nicely…”

    It was Ilmarė’s turn to smirk. “Kham has an arrest record.”

    Price squinted at Kham. “I thought yew looked familiar!”

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    The Madman: Part 5 – A Dream Vision

    Kham was walking along a busy street in a city. It was night. He was in a hurry, but there were many other pedestrians about who slowed his progress.

    Despite his haste, every twenty yards or so Kham was compelled to stop and check that he had his key with him. He pulled it out of an inside pocket of his jacket—it was a large corroded old-fashioned key on a very long loop of string—then thrust it back in.

    Once, Kham hung it over his arm like a satchel, but he decided it was safer in his pocket and put it back in there. Then, as he took it out one more time, instead of the key he was looking at a small-human-like figure, a fetish lying there in his hand. It was grotesque. There was something else—a sweet, fetid smell on the air, like rotting fruit.

    Kham looked up, disturbed, and the city was gone to be replaced by a flat landscape punctuated by mounds and hillocks and a few stunted trees. He stood with the others.

    There was a pressure building as though a storm was in the air. Kham sensed water nearby and the wind blew the smell to him. It was still dark, but he could just make out and count nine shapes, standing stones, placed around him.

    First the quality of the air changed, then the ground beneath him. Kham’s heart felt too big for his chest. Something was coming.

    There were cut-off screams. One after another, the people near him winked out like stars. He was alone, looking for the thing.

    He sensed it at the last moment as it reached out for you, lifting him up. Kham could do nothing but lay there, tiny under its inspection. He couldn’t help but look up into its eyes…

    Kham woke up in bed. He was sitting bolt upright, his heart racing.

    He looked over at Fleshripper. The wicked blade lay in its sheathe, just a hunk of inert metal innocently dangling from his bedpost.

    “We have GOT to get a divorce,” he said to the sword.

    Kham grabbed a wineskin from a nearby nightstand, took a long swig, and then tried to go back to sleep.

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