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Lost Port Royal Part 4 - The City Across the Bay

Posted by Max_Writer , in Call of Cthulhu, Campaign Log 06 August 2017 · 228 views

CoC 1-6e

* * *

 

On Tuesday, June 3, 1692, Theo woke up early to find his brother not in their bed, surprisingly. He thought sure someone was taking advantage of the mental deficient. He got up and went out in search of his brother. He decided to head down to the Catt and the Fiddle and thought to himself that his brother had better be there.

 

* * *

 

Both Fowler and Dr. Leighlin had terrible dreams that night, once again about the Yellow Sign, the King in Yellow, and a terrible city with tall towers and terrifying visages. Something seemed to pursue them through the city.

 

Dr. Leighlin also had nightmares about the man with the maggot-white colored skin he’d seen several times the day before. He continually woke in terror, screaming often when he did so. Gregory and Giovanni came into his room whenever he awoke with a cry but he drove them off. He did not have a good night’s sleep but he did eventually tell the two young men what he’d dreamt of and to beware of the man in black with the terribly pale skin as he had followed him. They brought him brandy to aid his sleep but it didn’t help either.

 

* * *

 

The streets of Port Royal were confusing that day. Though the town was very small and they were all familiar with every street and house, that day some of them had a terrible time finding their way to the tavern to meet the others for breakfast. Flint was very confused but Ackworth guided him to the tavern.

 

Dr. Leighlin was very confused by the streets. He got completely lost and was very disturbed by getting lost in a town he knew like the back of his hand. He finally managed to get to the Catt and the Fiddle but he realized something was terribly wrong. He was the last to arrive, and was shaken when he got there, looking around in confusion and touching the walls as if unsure if they were real.

 

“I got to sleep in my own bed,” Flint told Theo.

 

“Did any of you have trouble getting here?” Dr. Leighlin asked.

 

“Uh … I mean it was a little strange but … no,” Fowler said.

 

“No,” Jeagar said.

 

“Why would I have trouble?” Ackworth said.

 

“I never walked from his house so I was a little confused,” Flint said.

 

“I went straight across the road and I ended up beside the church,” Dr. Leighlin said. “There was no way.”

 

“Maybe it was God.”

 

“This is no time for that!”

 

“I heard he was real.”

 

“You’ve got to help me. I feel like I’m losing my mind.”

 

“It’s okay,” Fowler said. “We’ll get to the bottom of this … somehow.”

 

“You seem a lot different,” Flint said to the doctor. “You seem a lot stranger.”

 

“Well …” Dr. Leighlin said uncertainly.

 

“He speaks his mind,” Theo said. “That’s for sure.”

 

“Like he wasn’t strange already?” Fowler said.

 

Dr. Leighlin said nothing. He tried to eat something.

 

They discussed the markings and told the others what they had found in the hole: a six-foot high and one-foot diameter basalt pillar.

 

“In the street?” Dr. Leighlin asked.

 

“In the street,” Ackworth said. “Standing straight up.”

 

“Under the street,” Flint said.

 

“Under the street,” Dr. Leighlin said.

 

“And I had to pick it up,” Flint said.

 

“And we have reason to believe that there are eight more,” Ackworth said.

 

“Eight more,” Dr. Leighlin said. “Spread across the city.”

 

“I’m not doing that eight more times,” Flint said.

 

“Spread across the city,” Ackworth said.

 

“Why on Earth?” Dr. Leighlin said. “Let me see it.”

 

“Do you know some men who could help us dig?” Ackworth asked Jeagar. “Some good, trustworthy men?”

 

“Yes, I do,” Jeagar said.

 

Ackworth ordered Jeagar to get some men while he would go and get some digging supplies.

 

“How much should I tell them we’re going to pay them?” Jeagar asked.

 

“What do you think a fair wage is?” Ackworth said.

 

“A shilling.”

 

“And I’ll get shovels and a cart to carry them this time.”

 

“That sounds better for my back. My leg almost broke.”

 

“Maybe a few lanterns. Make sure these men are ready to tussle.”

 

Jeagar told him about the Negroes who were asking around the town about what was happening in Port Royal. He also told them where the two had been staying, according to Fowler.

 

* * *

 

Fowler and Dr. Leighton left, going to the courthouse to look into what had happened to Joseph Gill. They learned the arraignment was to be Wednesday and a trial was set for Thursday. The man he talked to guessed Gill would be fined or perhaps imprisoned for some time. There were rumors Gill had gone mad, however, so it was possible he would be imprisoned for his own good.

 

* * *

 

“‘And then there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground,’” they heard a man in a Spanish accent call out on the street.

 

Flint, Theo, and Jeagar had left the inn for their various errands when they heard the voice and looked down the street to see a man in a Catholic Priest’s robes preaching.

 

“‘And he said, Behold no, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways,’” the Spanish priest went on. “‘And they said Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.’”

 

As they approached, they saw he was a bald man with a mustache and goatee and dark skin like a Spaniard. Though none of them were particularly religious, they recognized the name “Lot” as part of the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

 

“The Lord smote the cities for their wicked ways and shall smite this one as well,” the priest cried out. “He is coming here, here to Port Royal. Death and destruction are coming. You … you must make peace with God. You must confess in order to pass into Heaven rather than burn in Hell when the city shall soon be destroyed!”

 

Most people walked by, ignoring the man. A few spared him a glance but otherwise did not pay much attention to him. Others rolled their eyes as they walked by. He continued to preach about the destruction of the city.

 

“Isn’t that the Spaniard that paid Joseph Gill?” Flint asked.

 

“I believe it is,” Jeagar said.

 

“Shall we arrest him?” Flint said.

 

“You can’t arrest him, brother,” Theo said. “You’re not a constable.”

 

“Shall we follow him instead?” Jeagar said.

 

“Yeah,” Flint said. “I want to ask him why Port Royal will be destroyed. Should I talk to him?”

 

“That’s not a bad idea,” Jeagar said.

 

“Okay,” Flint said.

 

“I’m going to hide here in the shadows and follow him when he goes,” Jeagar said.

 

“Theo, do you have my back?” Flint said.

 

“Absolutely, dear brother,” Theo said.

 

Flint walked down the street and crossed to the priest, who continued to preach fire and brimstone, of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which were destroyed for their sins, utterly annihilated, the entire valley decimated, and everyone dead. Lot had been warned to leave by God and told not to look back. His wife looked back at the destruction and was turned into a pillar of salt.

 

Flint knew the story. He knew Abraham had pleaded for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, asking God if he would spare the city if he could find 40 righteous men. God complied. Then Abraham asked he would not destroy the cities if he found 30 righteous men, and God agreed. He asked about 20 righteous men and God agreed. Finally he asked if God would spare the city if he could find 10 righteous men and God, once more, agreed.

 

The Spaniard preached that, as Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for their sins so, too, would Port Royal be destroyed for its sins.

 

Flint sat on the ground and listened.

 

“How do we save it?” Flint asked.

 

“You can’t!” the priest said. “You cannot save it. You cannot save the city. You can only save yourself … by confessing your sins to a good Catholic priest. And then … then your soul, at least, will go to Heaven when you are destroyed with all of … all of this wickedness, this terrible wickedness.”

 

“Then let’s all leave!”

 

“There is no escape. The souls of the damned will still burn in hell.”

 

“How long do we have?”

 

“You do not have long. Saturday. The end comes Saturday.”

 

“What’s today?”

 

The priest went on with his preaching about the destruction of the cities. He finally finished it up and looked with contempt at the people passing him by on the street and ignoring him. Flint looked around and saw Theo talking to someone but constantly looking in his direction.

 

“Theo!” Flint yelled at his brother. “We got ‘til Saturday! Port Royal’s going to be destroyed on Saturday!”

 

“Who are you talking to?” the priest said.

 

“My brother.”

 

“Why?”

 

“‘Cause he’s my brother.”

 

“Why? Why do you speak to your brother? Will he confess? Will he confess his sins?”

 

“He doesn’t believe in God.”

 

“Do you believe in God?”

 

“A little.”

 

“You should believe in him with your heart and soul because if you do not confess your sins you will burn in the pits of Hell for all eternity!”

 

“I don’t want to do that.”

 

“Then you must confess your sins.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“Tell me. Say ‘Bless me father, for I have sinned.’”

 

“Bless me father, for I have sinned.”

 

“‘It has been … I have never had a confession.’”

 

“I have never had a confession.”

 

“Now, you must tell me your sins. What have you done that has angered God? What commandments have you broken? How many have you killed?”

 

“I killed a man.”

 

“You killed a man?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“How many men have you killed?”

 

“Theo says it’s the big number.”

 

“The big number? A hundred men you have killed? A thousand men you have killed?”

 

“I don’t know how big that is but I don’t know how many … but I did kill one yesterday.”

 

“Do you regret your sins?”

 

“No, they were bad!”

 

“Killing is a sin, my child.”

 

“But I kill bad people.”

 

“It is still a sin. You will go to Hell if you do not confess and repent of your sins.”

 

Theo had made his way across the street and was moving up behind the priest.

 

“You must confess your sins and regret the terrible things you have done,” the priest said to Flint. “Killing is wrong. Have you stolen?”

 

“Yes,” Flint said, matter-of-factly.

 

“It is a sin.”

 

“I would die if I didn’t steal.”

 

“It is better to die a saint than live a sinner.”

 

Theo had made his way behind the Spaniard and poked a pistol into his back. The priest stood up straight and looked over his shoulder at the man.

 

“You would threaten a priest?” he said. “What kind of sinner are you?”

 

“Theo!” Flint said. “What are you doing?”

 

“He’s threatening a man of God, my child,” the priest said.

 

“Theo, I’m trying to confess my sins so I don’t burn in hell!”

 

“Who is this sinner?”

 

“That’s my brother behind you.”

 

“You should get down on my knees and confess your sins.”

 

Theo leaned forward.

 

“If you want to live, you’ll go into the street that is right adjacent to us,” he whispered.

 

“Oh,” the priest said. “You wish to rob me. You are a sinner too.”

 

He turned to Flint.

 

“Your brother is a sinner,” he said. “It makes me sad in my heart.”

 

“Am I saved yet?” Flint said.

 

“Not unless you stop your brother from robbing me.”

 

“I told him to stop!”

 

“You must take his pistol away.”

 

“What more can I do?”

 

“You must take his pistol away. Or God … God will cry upon you.”

 

“Mr. Jeagar! We need help!”

 

The priest moved towards the narrow street as he had been told, hands still down by his side.

 

“Stop yelling and just go get him,” Theo said to Flint.

 

“Well, maybe don’t hold someone at gunpoint in daylight,” Flint said.

 

“Well, maybe don’t argue! And go get him.”

 

“I was trying to save my soul!”

 

Jeagar headed across the street towards them.

 

“Mr. Jeagar, I was trying to confess my sins and then Theo pointed a gun at him,” Flint said, stopping Jeagar in the street.

 

“The preacher is probably a liar,” Jeagar told him. “He doesn’t even believe in God.”

 

“What? He lied to me?”

 

“More than likely.”

 

They looked around and realized they had lost sight of Theo and the priest.

 

“We’d better see what’s going on,” Jeagar said.

 

“Yeah, we’d better catch up,” Flint said.

 

They headed for the side street.

 

* * *

 

The priest had moved up the side street and then turned to Theo.

 

“Will you kill a man of God?” he asked the man.

 

He backed away from Theo.

 

“You cannot stop what is happening.”

 

Theo followed the man, picking up the pace.

 

“Don’t be a fool!” the priest said.

 

He turned and ran. Theo gave chase.

 

* * *

 

When Jeagar and Flint reached the side street, they saw the priest running away towards the other end, followed closely by Theo.

 

“Go protect your brother!” Jeagar said. “Quick! I’m too slow!”

 

Flint picked up Jeagar, who cursed.

 

“Put me down!” Jeagar said. “You just go! I’m going to go cut him off!”

 

He struggled against the larger man, who eventually put him down.

 

* * *

 

The priest ran for the corner ahead.

 

“Your destruction is assured!” he shouted over his shoulder

 

The man ducked to the left and when Theo ran around the corner, he saw it was a dead end but it should have been Lime Street. He turned to his right and saw an alley that he didn’t remember in this part of Port Royal. Then he saw the priest again. He gave chase.

 

* * *

 

Flint ran after his brother and saw him turn left onto Lime Street. When he ran around the corner, his brother was completely gone. There was no where he could have easily disappeared. Perhaps he ran into one of the shops on either side.

 

* * *

 

Theo managed to mostly keep up with the priest, who was sprinting. Though the streets didn’t seem to go where they were supposed to and he seemed to be in parts of the town that were not even connected, he kept up until he ran out of breath and had to stop. The priest continued to run.

 

* * *

 

Jeagar, who had been fighting against the confusing streets, finally came around a corner and saw the priest running in his direction. Theo was behind the man but then stopped and started breathing heavily, leaning against a wall.

 

Jeagar rushed the man, pulling his hatchet from his belt and striking the man in the leg, cutting him badly. The priest screamed and Jeagar ran right by him as fast as his peg leg allowed, heading towards Theo.

 

The priest stopped down the street, muttering something and pointing at Jeagar.

 

“Run away!” the priest said.

 

Jeagar felt an uncontrollable compulsion to flee and so ran down the street away from the man. The priest ducked around a corner and disappeared from sight.

 

Jeagar felt the compulsion leave him after only a few seconds, but the priest was gone by then.

 

* * *

 

Fowler and Dr. Leighlin exited the courthouse and saw a man outside who seemed to be in some distress.

 

“Sir, are you okay?” Fowler asked.

 

“Have you seen the Yellow Sign?” the man said.

 

He drew a knife and ran at Fowler. Fowler pulled his musket off his shoulder, cocked it, and shot the man in the right hand, blowing a substantial-sized hole in it and knocking the knife away. Blood sprayed and the man crashed to the ground. Dr. Leighlin backed away as people screamed and fled.

 

Fowler explained the man had attacked him in a mad fury and Dr. Leighlin attested to the facts. People grabbed the unconscious man and dragged him to the jail, blood still dripping from the terrible wound in his hand.

 

* * *

 

Ackworth spent the morning purchasing shovels and other paraphernalia for digging up the streets, including a few handcarts for use in transporting the strange pillars he was convinced were buried under the street. He also got some lanterns.

 

* * *

 

They all got together that night to dig up the things in the street. Jeagar had hired a dozen men to help pull the carts and dig. Ackworth provided 10 shovels and they got to work digging up the things from the street. Soldiers accosted them several times but Ackworth paid them a few shillings sent them happily on their way.

 

It was in the wee morning hours when a man approached with a lantern in his hand. He was a tall man with shoulder-length, stringy hair and a strange grin on his face. He wore a tri-cornered hat and had a large knife in his belt. His eyes were wide.

 

“Greetings,” he said. “Hello. I’m looking for a righteous man. Are any of you a righteous man?”

 

“What do you mean by a righteous man?” Fowler asked.

 

“Well, I must find 10 righteous men … to save Port Royal,” the man said.

 

“Define a righteous man,” Ackworth said.

 

“Yes,” Fowler said.

 

“Well, I must … if I find 10 … well, any of you could be righteous men,” the man said. “I-I take it you’re not going to just dig holes in the street. You’re going to refill it.”

 

“Well, of course,” Ackworth said. “That’s what we did last night.”

 

“I have some questions that I can ask,” the man said. “To see if any of you are righteous men. If I can find 10 … 10 righteous men, I can save Port Royal. I swear I can.”

 

“Go ahead,” Fowler said. “Ask me some questions.”

 

“Very well,” the man said. “Are you …”

 

“A righteous man?” Jeagar muttered.

 

“… a righteous man?” the man finished, either ignoring or not hearing him. “Have you ever killed a man or otherwise broken one of the Ten Commandments?”

 

“Uh …” Fowler said. “Well, I don’t know.”

 

“Then you are not a righteous man,” the stranger said. “A righteous man would know.”

 

“Well, no man without sin,” Ackworth said.

 

“Are you?” the man asked him. “Have you broken the Ten Commandments?”

 

“Well, I mean, no man is without sin,” Ackworth said.

 

“I do not need wordplay sir,” the stranger said. “I need a yes or a no.”

 

“I was born with it, though!” Ackworth said.

 

“You are not a righteous man,” the stranger said and turned to Jeagar. “What about you, sir?”

 

“Of course!” Jeagar said.

 

“You’re a righteous man?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“You’ve never killed another man? You’ve never stolen? You’ve never … never … never coveted thy neighbor’s wife? You’ve never committed adultery?”

 

The man went through the whole of the Ten Commandments.

 

“Yes,” Jeagar lied.

 

The stranger looked at his carefully.

 

“No no,” he said. “I’m sorry. You are a liar. That is a sin as well, my friend.”

 

The stranger turned to Flint.

 

“What about you?” he said. “Are you a righteous man?”

 

“I’d like to think so,” Flint said.

 

The stranger looked pained by that answer.

 

“Have you killed other men?” he said.

 

“Only the bad ones,” Flint said.

 

“That does not make a righteous man,” the stranger said sadly.

 

He turned to Dr. Leighlin.

 

“What of you, sir,” the stranger asked him.

 

“Are you a righteous man, sir?” Ackworth said.

 

The stranger turned back to him.

 

“It doesn’t matter what I am,” he said. “I am looking for righteous men.”

 

He turned back to Dr. Leighlin.

 

“But how do you know a righteous man─” Ackworth said.

 

“Quiet, you!” the stranger replied, turning back to him.

 

“─if you are not a righteous man, yourself?” Ackworth said.

 

“Do not speak again or I’ll strike you down on the spot!” the stranger said to him.

 

He turned back to Dr. Leighlin.

 

“Are you a righteous man, sir?” he asked, nearly in tears.

 

“Are you a righteous man, sir!?!” Ackworth yelled at the man, mocking him. “I’m looking for 10 righteous men!”

 

The stranger swung the lantern at his head and Ackworth leapt out of the way.

 

“Are you a righteous man!?!” Ackworth shrieked insanely. “I’m looking for 10 righteous men!”

 

The stranger drew his knife and tried to stab Ackworth, who ducked back.

 

“Do not interrupt me again!” he screamed.

 

Ackworth shouted back at him. Then Fowler took out his musket and shot the man in the shoulder. The man stumbled backwards and crashed to the street, his lantern falling to the ground and going out. The man lay there, bleeding.

 

“Dr. Leighlin, see to the man!” Ackworth said.

 

Flint drew out his blunderbuss.

 

“Why did you do that!?!” he cried out. “He was trying to save us!”

 

“And we’re going to save his life too,” Ackworth said.

 

“But we just shot him!”

 

“We didn’t kill him though. Hopefully.”

 

Dr. Leighlin tended to the fallen man.

 

“Theo, what do I do?” Flint said.

 

“Put your gun away, brother,” Theo said, drawing his own flintlock pistol. “You’re safe with me.”

 

Dr. Leighlin bound the terrible wound. The bullet gone directly through the man’s shoulder, punching a terrible hole in his scapula. He was bleeding profusely but Dr. Leighlin stanched the wound.

 

“I feel like we should question him,” Fowler said.

 

“I feel like we should tie him up,” Ackworth said.

 

“That would be good too,” Fowler said.

 

A few people investigated the strange occurrence, but a little money from Ackworth saw them on their way. Fowler wanted to question the man to find out who he worked for and what he wanted.

 

“I think he was just following the stories,” Flint said.

 

“What stories?” Fowler said.

 

“Sodom and Gomorrah,” Ackworth said.

 

“Yes,” Flint said. “If you find righteous men than you save the town.”

 

“Oh,” Fowler said. “I remember that from church. Save the town from what, exactly?”

 

“Destruction.”

 

“When is the town going to be destroyed?”

 

“Saturday.”

 

“And you’re only telling me this now?”

 

“Whoopsie.”

 

“Oh my gosh.”

 

“I forgot.”

 

They got back to work.

 

* * *

 

Before morning on Wednesday, June 4, 1692, they managed to remove all eight of the basalt pillars, had them loaded into the carts, and were heading back to Ackworth’s house on Thames Street along the North Docks, the sky ruddy in the east. A yellowish glow seemed to indicate the rising sun … until they realized it was not. Something else was to the east. Something unnatural.

 

Dr. Leighlin looked away. He felt his mind couldn’t take much more strangeness.

 

Across the harbor, standing on Pelican point, stood a strange city with a yellow glow behind it. It crouched dimly on by the shore, many spires and towers silhouetted by the rising sun in the strangely yellow sky. The towers appeared impossibly tall and thin. Something flitted between them.

 

Others on the docks stopped their work as they stared at the strange city. A few pointed.

 

Fowler recognized the terrible city from his nightmares. He reacted particularly poorly to the sight, rooted to the spot in terror. He felt a terrible horror of the color yellow and couldn’t look away from the glow behind the city.

 

Theo saw the priest he’d accosted the day before just down the street, staring at the city with a satisfied grin on his face. He looked around and saw Theo, his smile widening and he nodded at the man. Then he turned and walked away, quickly disappearing.

 

“Hey!” Theo said. “I just saw that priest!”

 

“Where did he go?” Sam muttered, still staring at the terrible city.

 

“He’s in the city.”

 

“Well … that narrows it down a lot …”

 

“Let’s go.”

 

“Wait … you want to go into the insane city?”

 

“I have nothing else to lose right now.”

 

They went to Ackworth’s house and unloaded the pillars inside.

 

They later heard the strange city had vanished a half hour after its appearance. A few people had tried to swim across the harbor to it but drowned in their attempts.

 

* * *

 

Fowler suggested they find the priest that day, figure out where he was, and force him to tell them what they needed to know to stop the madness afflicting the town. Dr. Leighlin took the unconscious madman back to his surgery, finding his way back to the house with only some issues. He hid in his house in hopes of avoiding the strangeness.

 

* * *

 

Flint took Theo aside.

 

“I think we should leave Port Royal,” he told his brother. “This place is terrible.”

 

“Where do you want to go, brother?” Theo said.

 

“Anywhere but here.”

 

“That’s a lot of options.”

 

“I think the preacher was right. I think this place is doomed to Hell. So, we should just leave.”

 

Theo thought about asking Lily if she wanted to come with them.

 

* * *

 

Dr. Leighlin heard a knock at his door. A few moments later, Gregory came into his room.

 

“Master!” the Italian youth said. “Master! Doctor Horton is here. He says he has discovered something amazing!”

 

“Yes, yes,” Dr. Leighlin said, getting up.

 

He went to his study. A few moments later, Dr. Horton peeked into the room.

 

Doctor Anthony Horton was an older man of about 40 who was also a surgeon in Port Royal. He was a rival Dr. Leighlin’s, though Dr. Leighlin was a better surgeon than Dr. Horton. Dr. Horton didn’t appreciate the new blood coming into Port Royal, especially when people in the town started to come to Dr. Leighlin instead of continuing to see Dr. Horton. Secretly though, Dr. Leighlin wished he was as a good as Dr. Horton. The man was tall and slim and wore bloodstained clothing.

 

“Dr. Leighlin,” he said.

 

“Yes Horton,” Dr. Leighlin said.

 

“May I come in?”

 

“Yes.”

 

The other surgeon entered the room, seating himself on one of the chairs.

 

“I’ve discovered a new way of reattaching dead limbs,” Dr. Horton said with a sneer.

 

“And why would I be interested?” Dr. Leighlin said.

 

“Because you can’t do it.”

 

“You think so?”

 

“Uh-huh.”

 

“What is it you plan?”

 

“Oh! Showing you up amongst the gentry and the aristocracy. Finally proving my worth.”

 

“I have no time for this.”

 

“Fair enough. Fair enough.”

 

“Go play with your toys.”

 

“I will!”

 

“I have all I need.”

 

“Humph!”

 

The man stood up and headed for the entry, stopping and turning back.

 

“Just know!” he said. “Just know, any sign of weakness is proof that I am your superior!”

 

Dr. Leighlin stood as Dr. Horton went to the front door.

 

“Bastard!” Dr. Leighlin said to him.

 

“Ha!” the man said, turning on the step. “I know who my parents─”

 

Dr. Leighlin slammed the door in the man’s face.

 

* * *

 

Fowler had decided to wander the now-strange streets of Port Royal to try to find the Spanish priest they had told him about. He noticed some strange statues that he had never seen in the city before. Most appeared to be broken and old, as if they have been there for many years, and depicted oddly shaped and sometimes strangely dressed people. Many were unfinished or partially damaged. They were all terribly large and he had no idea how they could have been placed in the city overnight. A few other people looked at the strange statues.

 

It was quite unsettling.

 

* * *

 

As all of them but Dr. Leighlin ate a very late breakfast at the Catt and the Fiddle, a Negro, obviously a slave, approached their table. Fowler recognized her as one of the two he had followed the day before.

 

“I need to talk to you,” she said in a Spanish accent.

 

“What do you want to talk about?” Fowler said.

 

“The Yellow Sign.”

 

“What is the Yellow Sign?”

 

“You’re not about to pull a knife on us, are you?” Ackworth said.

 

The woman looked at him bemusedly.

 

“Perhaps,” she said.

 

“Okay,” Ackworth said. “‘Perhaps’ is better than a ‘yes.’ Continue.”

 

“I was sent by my master to stop what is happening in Port Royal,” the woman said.

 

“How do we do that?” Fowler said.

 

“I need to talk to you somewhere more private,” the woman said.

 

“Let’s go somewhere private,” Fowler said.

 

“Which would be where?” the woman said.

 

“This gentleman, Breakfast Man’s, house,” Jeagar said.

 

“Breakfast Man’s house?” Ackworth said. “Where we’re storing all the basalt pillars? Sure.”

 

They went to Ackworth’s house and she seemed nervous but, once they were within and settled, spoke.

 

“My people and my master live in the wilds of Jamaica,” she said. “As we have done for two generations. We are the Maroon.”

 

They knew the Maroon were slaves who had escaped from the Spanish or the English years before and lived free in the wilds of Jamaica.

 

“There is a cult of a god name Hastur that is trying to take over Port Royal,” she said. “The Yellow Sign is both their means to do it and a way to spread the cult. It slowly drives men mad over the course of many nights or days. Whenever they sleep. The sigil is a physical force of madness and evil. The cult has worked against our own masters for a very long time and …”

 

“Yea!” a child cried out, running into the room.

 

He stopped when he saw all of the adults there, listening to the negro woman.

 

“Quiet Billy!” Ackworth shouted at the boy. “Get to your room!”

 

It was his nephew, who also lived in the house. The child fled the room.

 

“We seek the same as you: to stop it,” the Negro woman said. “We have had little success in finding out what causes it.”

 

“How do we do that?” Fowler said.

 

“We do not know. We know there is a madmen in the street seeking righteous men. There is a priest of some kind behind it. We think it is Dr. Heath, who is in charge of the church.”

 

“We have the madman,” Ackworth said.

 

“What?” the woman replied. “He would know more than we.”

 

“We also have these pillars,” Ackworth said, pulling the sacking from around one.

 

The woman took some time in counting the pillars. She was obviously not well-educated.

 

“It is said that nine pillars are required to summon Hastur,” she said. “But it is not the summertime that he can come. I do not know how we can help you but we will if we can.”

 

“If you wish to wait here, we can go get the madman,” Ackworth said. “Two of us.”

 

“I do not know what I could find out from him. If you can find out what you can from him … this priest. This Emmanuel Heath. We think he is behind this.”

 

“Wait,” Fowler said. “But he said he didn’t know anything … oh. He was lying. Because he said he didn’t know anything about it and he thought it was strange.”

 

“Well, there you have it,” Theo said.

 

“I do not know,” the woman said. “I just know that … if there is any way we can help you stop this … the city that appeared across the bay this morning is a place called Carcosa. It eats towns that are wicked or evil.”

 

“I can go talk to Heath to see if he knows anything,” Fowler said.

 

“Do you know where he is?” Ackworth said.

 

“I know where his house is,” Fowler said. “I know where the church is.”

 

“We think he is behind all this,” the woman said.

 

“Well, we’ll see if he is,” Fowler said.

 

“If you need our help, find us,” she said.

 

She told them where they were staying and took her leave of them.

 

“Who wants to go confront the priest with me?” Fowler said.

 

“I haven’t been doing so well with priests, lately, so I will go to the good doctor’s house,” Ackworth said.

 

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