â€œHey, everyone, I found some good reading for us,â€ he said as they walked.
â€œShall we go somewhere private to read it?â€ Skern suggested.
â€œYes,â€ Selwyn said.
â€œWhat do you mean by good?â€ Hawksworth said, agitated.
â€œOh, very entertaining,â€ Selwyn said. â€œWith that Britannia bookâ”€â€
â€œEntertaining?â€ Hawksworth said. â€œEntertaining?â€
â€œIn English,â€ Selwyn said. â€œWeâ€™ve got the journal. I will read the journal. We have Monstres and Their Kynde.â€
They returned to London town and went to Godfreyâ€™s house, a huge edifice filled with servants.
â€œDrink, please,â€ Hawksworth said as they sat down in a very fine sitting room.
Godfrey called for food and drink and the servants returned with ale, beer, and cold meat, cheese, and bread. One of them in particular, Baldrick, a dirty little man with a scraggly beard, stayed behind, obviously one of Godfreyâ€™s more trusted servants.
â€œRoight sir,â€ he said. â€œI have a cunning plan to get the food here very quickly.â€
He ran away.
â€œIs Baldrick always this creepy?â€ Selwyn asked.
â€œYes,â€ Godfrey said.
The food and drink were soon there.
â€œI found the religious pebbles,â€ Selwyn said, putting the stones on the table.
Godfrey put down the womanâ€™s broach heâ€™d found as well. Skern looked at it strangely.
â€œI recognize that broach,â€ he said.
It was a gift heâ€™d given to Lucy Henry on her 21st birthday.
â€œWhere did you get that!?!â€ he said.
â€œI found it by the pole in that strange room!â€ Godfrey said.
â€œLet me see it!â€ Skern said. â€œI gave this to Lucy!â€
Thatâ€™s when it all came back him.
Some months before, in late August or early September, the Globe was presenting Jonsonâ€™s play Every Man in His Humour. Skern had asked his then lady-love Lucy Henry to accompany him to the performance. After the play, Skern met several friends who included in their company Joseph Barker, a poet whose request to have work printed was turned down by him with the excuse of a heavy workload.
The company adjourned to a nearby alehouse and talked long into the night about the play. Lucy paid scant attention to Barker, who left after perhaps an hour. Skern dismissed the incident, completely forgetting the meeting until just that moment.
Several weeks after taking Lucy to the play, she informed him their relationship was at an end. They had argued, he accusing her of taking a new suitor, an accusation she denied. They parted company until he received her message about Marijne.
â€œHow could I have forgotten?â€ Skern said.
He quickly told them of his meeting with Joseph Barker some months before.
â€œI donâ€™t remember him really saying anything to Lucy, so I donâ€™t know how he could have this broach,â€ Skern said. â€œI do remember suspecting, when she broke my heart two weeks after that, that there was another man, though she denied it.â€
â€œWe should talk to Lucy,â€ Selwyn said.
â€œMake sure you remind him that youâ€™re friends when he confronts us about breaking into his house, will you?â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œI aim to kill this man!â€ Skern said. â€œHe is most certainly not my friend!â€
Selwyn opened Barkerâ€™s diary and started to read it.
Hawksworth drank heavily. He hoped to blot out some of the terrible things heâ€™d seen in the mirror that night.
Godfrey picked up Monstres and Their Kynde and skimmed it.
â€œMaster Godfrey?â€ Baldrick said.
â€œYes?â€ Godfrey said.
â€œIs that Italian on that piece oâ€™ paper?â€
â€œI speak Italian!â€
â€œYou do? You never told me, Baldrick.â€
â€œYou donâ€™t know many things about me, Master Godfrey.â€
â€œOh God!â€ Hawksworth said. â€œJust put him down.â€
â€œQuiet you!â€ Baldrick said to the man.
â€œTone, Baldrick!â€ Godfrey said. â€œTone! Do I have to lock you in the basement again?â€
â€œIâ€™m sorry sir. I have a cunning plan. I could translate that for you.â€
â€œOh, would you?â€
â€œIsnâ€™t that cunning?â€
â€œYes. Yes Baldrick. Very good.â€
The dirty servant proceeded to write out the translation of what was on the paper.
â€œIf my Lucy has been with Barker â€¦ sheâ€™s dead to me!â€ Skern said. â€œBut Iâ€™m also very scared for her life.â€
â€œWell I would â€¦ it doesnâ€™t matter,â€ Hawksworth said.
He had given up hope after what heâ€™d seen in the terrible mirror.
Godfrey read the translation Baldrick made for him:
Twelve months ago I received this chair as part of the cache of goods brought back
from Giovanni Gallacciâ€™s last trade visit to the Far East. On that journey he travelled
deep into the heart of Cathay, further than reached before, to a place where he encountered
a terrible people known as the Tcho-Tcho. Upon encountering members of this tribe,
Giovanni attempted trade but they fell upon the Europeans, killing many. Giovanni gathered
the bulk of his remaining men and entered the village of the Tcho-Tcho, where he saw
deprivation on an unprecedented scale. Human sacrifice and torture of the basest nature
greeted him wherever he turned and filled with righteous rage he and his men slaughtered
When they had dispatched the tribesmen all that remained was one old man who called
himself Apan Tu, who begged that they not slaughter him. He requested in his own manner
to convert to the one god and to be brought to civilization. Gallacci brought home the man
and the great chair which had stood in the center of the village.
Apan Tu caused much sensation when he returned. Foolishly seeking the attention of my
peers and the social glory that would entail, I requested that Gallacci allow Apan Tu to enter
my service. Since I had funded Gallacciâ€™s trade mission, my request was granted. Gallacci
also presented me with the chair. This was to prove my undoing.
For Apan Tu had not truly embraced the one faith and was indeed conducting his vile
rites in my own house, taking children from the street and sacrificing them to his foul god.
This I witnessed one night for I was restless and could not sleep. I ventured downstairs and
heard noises coming from the study where the chair rested. Peering around the door I saw
Apan Tu, kneeling before the throne, a look of undisguised glee on this face, while in the chair
sat a creature so horrible I can scarce bring myself to describe it. Tall, monstrously so, clothed
in multi-colored rags, a mask in one hand and its face â€¦ a mass of writhing tentacles, snaking
out, attaching themselves to the screaming visage of a child of no more than ten, sucking the life
from the frail waif.
Later, when my sanity was recovered, I confronted Apan Tu, who merely laughed at me
and said that what I had seen was merely the first he had summoned; later he would summon
another form from the depths of the sea itself. Filled with fury I took my rapier and plunged
it through his black heart. As he died I dragged from his diseased mind the way to stop this
unholy beast in its vilest form. It involved the use of three crystals of blue, green, and yellow,
which Apan Tu had brought with him. Apan died before I could extract the exact method of
employing these crystals. However, I retrieved these jewels from Tuâ€™s belongings and now
I seal them into the compartment I have fashioned in the base of this foul throne.
To those who own this chair after I have perished, take heed. It will bring nothing but despair
and damnation. The chair cannot be destroyed, for I have tried, and if it falls into the wrong hands,
the crystals are, I believe, the only way of preventing the summoning of the beast Apan Tu would
have eventually called forth.
Lorenzo Castellano 9th March 1450
Selwyn, meanwhile, was reading Barkerâ€™s diary. It detailed the years 1601 and 1602. In it, Barker described traveling to Amsterdam to consult with the finest gem cutters, eventually coming into contact with Johannes van der Wyck, who, being of like mind, agreed to make the crystal needed for a terrible rite to further contact Hastur. Van der Wyck came to London to do the work financed by Barker. There they consulted what Barker only called â€œhis library,â€ where he was aided by further information provided by the creatures he contacted via crystals.
He also detailed his meeting with Lucy Henry and immediately becoming intoxicated with her. He recognized her potential as a sacrifice at his ultimate summoning of the actual form of Hastur in the Pit of Charybdis. He courted her and gained her affection and trust, all the while plotting her kidnapping. He plotted her demise with fanatical devotion, consulting with the King regularly and even giving his energy to his master in exchange for arcane secrets.
The last few entries detailed the preparations for the rite, giving the location as beneath the White Tower of the Tower of London, the date as the morning of January 12th, and the time as one hour before the dawning of the day. It did not, however, show how the cultists, who apparently numbering at least 100, would get into the paranoiacally guarded palace and prison.
â€œSo, yes, the journal entry is most interesting,â€ Selwyn said. â€œWe will have to see Lucy at some point.â€
â€œWhat does it say!?!â€ Skern said. â€œGood God, man, tell me! Is she in danger!?!â€
â€œYes,â€ Selwyn said calmly. â€œA little bit.â€
â€œOut with it, then!â€ Skern said.
â€œA little bit?â€ Hawksworth added.
â€œWhat day is it?â€ Selwyn asked. â€œJoseph plans on kidnapping her â€¦ and sacrificing her â€¦â€
Skern let out a desperate cry.
â€œSelwyn, you said a little bit!â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œA little bit,â€ Selwyn said.
â€œKidnapping and murder is a little bit!?!â€
â€œApparently heâ€™s got a hundred or so cultists â€¦ hopefully who donâ€™t all know the â€¦ you know - grabby â€¦ of the heart.â€
â€œI must go to her at once!â€ Skern said. â€œI will return.â€
â€œI would wait,â€ Selwyn said.
But it was too late. Skern leapt up and ran out of the room.
â€œSkern, wait!â€ Hawksworth called.
â€œWhat?â€ Skern called, stopping in the hallway.
â€œItâ€™s four against a hundred,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œWe donâ€™t stand a chance, lads.â€
â€œI highly doubt heâ€™d use a hundred men to kidnap one woman,â€ Selwyn said.
â€œYou donâ€™t know my Lucy,â€ Skern said.
â€œThough â€¦â€ Selwyn said.
â€œHow many do you think Barkerâ€™s going to use once he returns home and sees what weâ€™ve done?â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œThat weâ€™ve knocked down a candle?â€ Selwyn said.
Skern walked back into the room.
â€œListen,â€ he said. â€œListen. We have the crystals. You learn the spell. Iâ€™m going to get Lucy and bring her back here.â€
â€œLearn the spell, I already have,â€ Selwyn said. â€œI just need slots to put these in!â€
â€œFigure it out!â€ Skern said.
He ran out of the room and out of Godfreyâ€™s house.
â€œGood luck, Skern!â€ Hawksworth called drunkenly after him. â€œGo with love!â€
â€œWeâ€™ll see you tomorrow!â€ Selwyn called.
When he looked at Barkerâ€™s book, Cults of Roman Britain, he found the translation of what Dr. Whitewood had earlier translated for them. It was slightly different than the original Latin with a completely different passage replacing the last one in that book. It read:
The people themselves were intent on their god and we attacked, losing many but eventually
driving the creature back from whence is came and, when our terrible duty was done, we sealed
up the foul pit for ever more.
It made no mention of how the pit was sealed, exactly.
* * *
Skern ran across London town from Godfreyâ€™s house in Cheapside to Lucy Henryâ€™s house near Aldsgate. He pounded on the door when he arrived. Anna eventually opened it.
â€œYes, Mr. Skern,â€ she said.
â€œIt is urgent that I speak with Miss Lucy at once!â€ Skern said.
â€œWell, Iâ€™m sorry, but Iâ€™m afraid Mistress Henry left the house ten minutes ago.â€
â€œWhere has she gone? Whoâ€™s she gone with?â€
â€œShe didnâ€™t say where she was going or when sheâ€™d return. She simply put her cape on and left on foot. It was right after the message arrived.â€
â€œShe got a message and she read it and left.â€
â€œWell, where is it?â€
â€œItâ€™s in the sitting room, sir.â€
He pushed roughly by the old woman and ran into the sitting room, looking around desperately. Anna followed him, squawking. He saw a small piece of paper in the fire and grabbed it out. Only a little bit of the edge burned.
I have returned from my travels. Oh, how Iâ€™ve missed you. I must see you for my heart
burns with an unbridled desire to kiss your sweet lips once more. Meet me in St. Jamesâ€™ Park
in an hour.
â€œI knew it!â€ Skern cried. â€œThat whore! I must save her!â€
â€œOh my,â€ Anna said.
â€œAnna, take care,â€ he said.
He ran out of the house and across town once again. The streets were crowded and a steady drizzle and whipping winds hampered his progress. But he finally reached St. James Park, which was mostly deserted, quiet, and in the circumstances quite forbidding. A cold, sharp wind whistled in the trees and the thunderheads above made it very dark. The steady drizzle was thickening into a downpour, icy rain sluicing across the park driven by the swirling wind. He began calling for Lucy.
Once in the park, it didnâ€™t take long to discover her. She was with a man, unrecognizable as he was standing in the shadows of a tree. They seemed to be in animated conversation and then they embraced tightly.
â€œLucy!â€ he called again.
The two looked at him as he strode quickly towards them. Then the man grabbed her roughly. She struggled against him and he struck her savagely across the face, at which she collapsed into his arms. He dragged her back into the undergrowth as Skern rushed towards them, his sword drawn.
â€œLucy!â€ he called again, running towards the undergrowth.
There was suddenly a burst of gunfire. A nearby tree splintered, a second bullet whizzed by Skernâ€™s head, and a third bullet flew out into the darkness. Then three men stepped out of the shadows, dropping their pistols and drawing rapiers, standing between Skern and where heâ€™d last seen Lucy. Skern rushed the men, drawing his blunderbuss as he got within a few feet.
* * *
Rain pounded on the windows of Godfreyâ€™s house as the other three sat in the sitting room, two of them reading.
â€œYou think Skernâ€™s all right?â€ Hawksworth muttered.
â€œAh, heâ€™s probably fine,â€ Selwyn said, not looking up from his book.
* * *
Skern blasted away at the man on the left with the blunderbuss, striking him in the left foot. His leg flew out from under him and he fell into the mud with a shriek. The other two men rushed him, trying to run him through. The first completely missed with a wild swing. The second man stabbed Skern in the left arm and he fell with a cry.
* * *
â€œI guess him and Lucy are doing well,â€ Hawksworth said, looking at the large clock on the wall.
Skern had been gone for more than an hour by then.
â€œWell, he didnâ€™t take any of the evidence with him,â€ Selwyn said. â€œSo, I donâ€™t know if sheâ€™ll believe him.â€
â€œWhat are we supposed to do now?â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œClearly, we need to goâ”€â€
â€œIt doesnâ€™t matter.â€
â€œâ”€and protect Lucy. She is the key sacrifice for the bigâ”€â€
â€œThen why didnâ€™t we go with Skern?â€
Selwyn looked at him blankly.
â€œWell, where did he go?â€ Hawksworth said. â€œSkern. Where did he go?â€
â€œSkern went after Lucy to defend her an extra hour before we got there,â€ Selwyn said. â€œBut weâ€™ve read everything, right Godfrey?â€
â€œPerhaps we should go find Lucy,â€ Godfrey said.
â€œJust take the books over to show Lucy,â€ Selwyn said. â€œShe shouldnâ€™t mind us protecting her while weâ€™re just reading.â€
â€œBaldrick, sober Hawksworth up first,â€ Godfrey said.
â€œWe should go now,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œLead the way.â€
They gathered up all of the books and papers and went out into the pouring rain. They had an idea of where Lucy Henryâ€™s house was and eventually found it. They knocked and the door was answered by an older housemaid.
â€œIâ€™m looking for a Skern,â€ Selwyn told her. â€œAnd a Lucy.â€
â€œWell, Miss Henry went out earlier, as I told Mr. Skern, who rushed out of the house, screaming he was going to St. James Park to save her or some such nonsense,â€ the woman told them.
â€œI feel we should move briskly,â€ Selwyn said. â€œThank you.â€
She closed the door.
â€œDonâ€™t tell me weâ€™re going to start running?â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œA brisk jog,â€ Selwyn said.
They made their way to St. James Park in the pouring rain and found Skern laying face down in the mud next to another man who was unconscious and bleeding from a terrible wound to his foot and ankle. Skern had been stabbed and was insensible. His spent blunderbuss lay in the mud next to him.
â€œLetâ€™s question that man once he wakes up,â€ Selwyn said, pointing to the man they didnâ€™t know.
â€œHe hurt Skern!â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œWe can kill him later!â€ Selwyn said. â€œLater!â€
They carried Skern and the other man to Dr. Whitewoodâ€™s near Newgate. He tended to Skern and was eventually able to wake the man up though he remained barely conscious.
â€œWhere is Lucy?â€ Skern muttered.
They asked Dr. Whitewood to wake up the other man, binding him to the bed first. He tied down the brigand but was unable to wake him up with smelling salts, light slaps, or cold water in his face. Hawksworth tried to wake the man as well without luck.
â€œWhereâ€™s Lucy?â€ Hawksworth asked Skern.
â€œLucy?â€ Skern said. â€œLucy.â€
â€œYes, Lucy. Where is she?â€
â€œJoseph â€¦ Barker!â€
â€œYes! Yes! Whore! Save her!â€
â€œWhere did they go?â€
Skern didnâ€™t know. He was obviously not completely in his right mind.
â€œWas there anything in the note about where he was going to perform the sacrifice?â€ Hawksworth asked the others.
â€œWell, there was that chart in the laboratory that marked the place in the city,â€ Godfrey said.
â€œThe tower!â€ Skern cried out.
â€œTold me the tower of London,â€ Godfrey went on. â€œPerhaps there.â€
â€œWhy would you do it in the Tower of London?â€ Hawksworth asked. â€œWhy wouldnâ€™t you do it in the hole in the basement?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know.â€
â€œThatâ€™s where Iâ€™d do it.â€
â€œMaybe he needs more space,â€ Skern cried out.
â€œThe Tower of London,â€ Selwyn said. â€œBut I donâ€™t know how heâ€™s going to get past all of the guards.â€
â€œI wonder how heâ€™s going to do that,â€ Hawksworth muttered drunkenly. â€œMaybe heâ€™d need a hundred men?â€
â€œI think itâ€™s something magical, probably,â€ Selwyn said.
They discussed telling the constables but realized how mad it would all sound.
â€œWell, I donâ€™t know how we could stop it,â€ Hawksworth said. â€œI say we pack our bags tonight, carry Skern out of here, and â€¦ I donâ€™t know â€¦ just get out of here?â€
â€œLeave the Queen to her fate?â€ Dr. Whitewood said.
â€œWhereâ€™s your patriotism?â€ Selwyn said.
â€œOh, that left me long ago,â€ Hawksworth said.
Dr. Whitewood pointed out if there were a hundred men meeting for something, surely they should be able to follow some of them. Selwyn mentioned waking the unconscious thug and they slapped his face and shook him but were unable to wake him from his stupor. Dr. Whitewood said he would continue to try to awaken the man.
â€œWe have until the 12th,â€ Selwyn said.
â€œBut we are just an actor, a banker, and a locksmith,â€ Hawksworth pointed out. â€œWhat chance to we have?â€
â€œYou must go,â€ Skern called.
â€œWe have spirit,â€ Selwyn said.
â€œYou must save Lucy,â€ Skern called.
â€œAnd the stabbed man is telling us we must go,â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œI mean, clearly â€¦â€ Selwyn said.
â€œJoseph must be stopped,â€ Skern called.
â€œClearly, weâ€™re all going to die,â€ Hawksworth said.
Dr. Whitewood wrote a note and called a servant to deliver it, sending the young boy off.
Selwyn suggested learning the spell Van der Wyck had used on Shakespeare. However, upon examining it, it proved impossible to quickly learn. Hawksworth suggested learning the spell to stop Hastur but Selwyn said he already knew it. Hawksworth looked over the phrase and memorized it as well. Selwyn reminded him blood was necessary.
Another man appeared at Dr. Whitewoodâ€™s house a short while later. He proved to be a physician of Dr. Whitewoodâ€™s acquaintance, whom Dr. Whitewood had sent for to see Skern. He patched the young man up and Skern was able to out of bed. The doctor also tried to awaken the assaulter but the man simply wouldnâ€™t come to.
They discussed the spell to stop Hastur.
â€œIf I can learn a play, I can learn a chant,â€ Hawksworth said.
Skern also memorized the words.
â€œGodfrey, did you look this over as well?â€ he asked.
â€œNot yet, but I should,â€ the banker said.
He also learned the phrase and how to cast the spell. Skern asked the order and Selwyn told him yellow was last. He was not exactly sure of the order of the other two stones.
They decided to get as much rest as they could in the next day or so. Selwyn suggested they get more pistols and blunderbusses. There was some talk about how to find the place where they were going to conduct the ritual and Selwyn suggested they watch the tower near the time of the ritual and follow anyone in who might be entering. The Thames came almost right up to the tower and they realized there might be a way into the place through the traitorâ€™s gate. He also mentioned getting a boat and watching for anyone entering.
â€œWe should tell the authorities that someone plans on attacking the tower,â€ Selwyn said. â€œOf course, weâ€™re doing this anonymously. Around the morning of the 12th.â€
â€œI think thatâ€™s a bad idea,â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œBut if thereâ€™s heavy guards when they hear gunfire, not if, people can arrive to help.â€
â€œThereâ€™ll be too much confusion.â€
â€œWonâ€™t it be hard for us to get in then?â€ Skern said.
â€œBut thereâ€™s a hundred,â€ Selwyn said.
â€œBut it makes it hard for us to get in,â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œTrue,â€ Selwyn said.
â€œIf they sneak by, we canâ€™t stop them,â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œWell, itâ€™s not longer a hundred cultists, itâ€™s only 99,â€ Selwyn said. â€œThatâ€™s just, what? Thirty-three each?â€
* * *
Dr. Whitewood managed to revive the man who had attacked Skern in St. James Park but he proved to merely be a thug hired by Barker to stop anyone who came after him.
â€œReally?â€ Selwyn said to the man, who was still tied down in the bed. â€œYou, sir, are useless.â€
He beat the man into unconsciousness.
Dr Whitewood had him sent to jail for the attack in St. James Park after removing the terribly injured foot.
* * *
Godfrey had continued to have terrible dreams in the evenings, nightmares about the King in Yellow, Carcosa, Lake Hali, and something terrible that was, inevitably, coming to get him. He could feel himself coming slowly unwound by the terrible images. He didnâ€™t know how long heâ€™d be able to bear it.
* * *
In the early morning hours of Wednesday, January 12, 1603, they hired a small skiff in order to observe the Tower as closely as possible. However, when they tried to board, Hawksworth proved reticent.
â€œThe bridge,â€ he muttered, remembering the horrible things he had seen in the mirror. â€œWhereâ€™s the bridge?â€
They realized the man was deathly afraid of the Thames, something they had not noticed before. Selwyn tried to convince him to cover his face and eyes with his cloak.
â€œIf I can handle those stairs, you can handle this body of water!â€ Godfrey told him. â€œYou can do this.â€
â€œStairs donâ€™t kill!â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œYes, they do,â€ Godfrey said. â€œIf you fall down them, they do.â€
â€œYes, they do,â€ Hawksworth said.
They covered his face and tried to calm him down. He remained nervous but was willing to be put into the boat.
â€œThe water is perfectly crystal clear,â€ Selwyn lied. â€œThere are not even fish.â€
â€œThis is the Thames,â€ Godfrey said. â€œThis is not crystal clear.â€
â€œHe canâ€™t see,â€ Selwyn hissed at him.
They rowed onto the Thames, Hawksworth almost insensate in the bottom of the boat. A strange, almost luminous fog covered the river and it was some time before Selwyn and Skern saw several men in robes approaching the Traitorâ€™s Gate by the river as well. They rowed quietly after the men and saw them manipulate an unlit flambeaux at the base of the gate where the swelling Thames met it. Once the men were gone, they rowed to the spot.
The entrance was half submerged in water from the river, which was flowing quite high due to the recent heavy rains and snow. It looked like the water was shallow near the door.
â€œIâ€™ve got some bad news, hawkâ€™s egg,â€ Skern said. â€œYouâ€™re going to have to go through the water.â€
â€œYouâ€™re going to have to be a little bit wet,â€ Selwyn said.
â€œNo,â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œYou have a problem with wet?â€
â€œNo. Whatâ€™s the point of getting in a boat if you have to get out of the boat into the water?â€
â€œDonâ€™t worry. Itâ€™s not deep. Itâ€™s only a foot or so. Just step out right now. The boat canâ€™t physically go further.â€
â€œWeâ€™re on land,â€ Skern said.
â€œThereâ€™s just a little bit of water on the floor,â€ Godfrey lied.
Hawksworth climbed out and splashed into the water. He let out a shout as Skern tried to calm him. Hawksworth catapulted himself forward, splashing through the water until he crashed into a stone wall. They grabbed the man and took him through the secret door.
There was water inside though, too.
â€œWhere is the land?â€ Hawksworth said.
Selwyn had lit his tiny hooded lantern. They could hear nearby splashes and see rats in the water. Something made the water ripple and they could sometimes feel things moving against their boots.
They finally reached a steel door set above the waterline in the far end of the half-sunken corridor. The door proved secure and they saw no keyhole, though they did see a circular indentation about four inches across set into it.
â€œI need your stone, Hawksworth,â€ Selwyn said.
He got the strange stone theyâ€™d found on Van der Wyck. When Selwyn fit it into the recess, a soft â€œsnickâ€ was heard. They easily pushed the door open after that. It led to a dry tunnel that plunged down steps at an acute angle until it reached first a level tunnel some 150 feet below ground and then a more open antechamber beyond. There was an ancient wooden door on one wall and they could hear the chanting of many voices behind it.
Once they were beyond the water, they had unblinded Hawksworth. He seemed quite happy there was no water there.
They doused the light and cracked the door, peeking into the room beyond. The place was something like an amphitheater, semi-circular and built of stone flags with tiers for viewing and lit by far too few candles, leaving a great deal of the place shrouded in shadow. The â€œstageâ€ of said amphitheater was dominated by a large pool of black water, constantly frothing and churning. In front of the pool were three large stone altars. On the ground near the pool, set into a hollow in the floor, was a large sulfurous-yellow crystal that pulsed regularly with a throbbing glow. It was connected to the three altars by narrow channels which ran along the floor and up the front of them.
â€œHow the hell did they build this?â€ Selwyn hissed.
He recognized the yellow stone as the same design of the template heâ€™d found in Van der Wyckâ€™s shop. Godfrey, Skern, and Hawksworth, all saw that on the front of each altar was a small hole which interrupted each of the channels at a certain point. They guessed they were the holes for the colored stones.
Lying on top of the central altar was the unconscious form of Lucy Henry. An unknown man was prostrate on the right and an unknown woman on the left. Two robed and masked figures stood by the left and right altars. They were dressed in ragged yellow hooded robes and plain white face masks with just eye, nose, and mouth holes.
â€œSheâ€™s doing what sheâ€™s good at,â€ Hawksworth muttered to Skern. â€œLaying down like the whore she is.â€
A large group of assembled cultists stood on the tiers and began a slow chant to Hastur as one of the two masked priests picked up a long, spike-like stiletto from the table. As the chant built to a crescendo, the left woman awoke. The priest plunged the dagger deep into her chest, piercing her heart. She merely moaned and a jet of blood squirted up, splashing over the pristine white impassive surface of the priestâ€™s mask.
As soon as the dagger struck and the blood from the victim drained down the channel, bathing the yellow crystal, the pool began to churn and boil with even greater ferocity and a cycling whirlpool started to take shape. A milky-colored mist began to float out across the amphitheater from the pool and the gathered cultists started chanting again, this time in a higher key and more stridently. Now the priest on the right plunged his dagger into the victim in front of him. As the man died and the blood spilled down to the crystal, the maelstrom gathered speed and spread out, allowing them to almost see what was appearing in the pool. Tentacles could barely be seen.
The chanting ceased save for a low humming and the two priests met at the central altar, raising the dripping daggers above the body of Lucy Henry. The chanters suddenly barked a single, loud, unintelligible word and the daggers, having reached their zenith, began to fall!
Skern burst into the room and ran forward, opening fire with his blunderbuss. The blast struck the nearer of two priests in the right leg and the man screamed and fell to the ground, bleeding profusely. His mask flew off but they didnâ€™t recognize him. The blood poured down the channel to the terrible yellow gem and the mist abruptly disappeared. Hawksworth, sword in hand, ran into the room and away from the water, heading for the corner near the tiers. Godfrey ran into the room to the other corner, nearer the pool. Selwyn fired at the remaining priest with his blunderbuss but missed completely. He dropped the firearm.
The gun smoke was thick all around them.
The other priest backed away from the altar and the pool as several tentacles came out of the terrible maelstrom and reached into the room, over some of their heads. The tentacles grabbed blindly, some of them snatching up cultists and crushing them to death, others merely touching the men, who dropped dead. A few seized men from the tiers and dragged them screaming into the maelstrom, never to be seen again.
â€œWeâ€™ve got to get those stones over here!â€ Skern cried out.
He ran to Lucy on the altar. She appeared to be unconscious and lay unmoving. Hawksworth looked around in terror and then ran to Selwyn.
â€œHow do we make it stop!?!â€ he cried. â€œHow do we make it stop!?! What do we do!?! What do we do!?!â€
Godfrey ran around the far side of the terrible pool towards the other priest, pistol in hand, faster than they thought the fat man possible.
â€œIâ€™m fixing it!â€ Selwyn cried.
He ran to the place between the three altars where he could reach all three of them. More cultists were snatched up by the tentacles while others fled towards the door. A few simply cowed in the corner or acted very strangely. The priest, who saw Godfrey coming, pulled his robes aside and drew a sword.
â€œSelwyn, pass me a stone!â€ Skern called, moving towards the other man.
Hawksworth fled the room.
Selwyn knelt between the altar and cut his hand with his axe. Then he took the stones out of his sack and put them into the blood.
â€œGet the cultist with the sword!â€ he screamed.
The cultist with the sword removed his mask and Skern recognized the man.
â€œBarker!â€ he cried.
â€œHave at you, you frail piece of shite!â€ the evil man said to him.
He took a fencing stance and then thrust his blade at the man. Skern parried the blow and the two had at it. Skern returned the blow and Barker parried that thrust as well. Meanwhile, Godfrey moved off to the right, closing with Barker and shooting the man in the left leg with his pistol.
* * *
In the antechamber, Hawksworth stopped and turned. Two cultists ran out of the door behind him, fleeing for their lives. The two men were making to run by him but he stabbed at one of them, tearing at his robes. The man ran past him with a gibbering moan. The other man slowed and drew a dagger.
â€œYou wanna go?â€ he said.
He tried to stab the young actor but missed him completely.
* * *
Selwyn thought on the stones a moment, looking around for any indication of where they might go. He noticed that each hole where he assumed the stones were to go was carved as a representation of a howling face. He remembered the stones had been arranged in the secret compartment with blue on the left, yellow in the middle, and green on the right. He knew yellow was placed last so he chose to place the blue stone on the left first and then the green stone on the right. He began speaking the chant.
Barker said some terrible word that didnâ€™t seem possible with the human vocal chords. He held up his left hand. Nothing seemed to happen, so Skern swung wildly at the man, who laughed in his face.
â€œWeâ€™re trying to help you, Joseph!â€ Skern yelled.
* * *
â€œWater behind me, water in front of me,â€ Hawksworth said, swinging wildly at the horrible little man and missing.
The other man tried to stab him again without hitting him.
* * *
Godfrey dropped his wheellock pistol and drew the second from his belt. He shot Barker in a flash of fire and smoke as the man just grinned at him. There was a strange sound as the bullet actually seemed to ricochet off the manâ€™s very skin! Barker laughed again.
Selwyn, meanwhile, put the last stone in and said the magical phrase. He put everything into it that he could and suddenly felt woozy. As his vision filled with redness, he realized he didnâ€™t have the power to do it, but knew a man whose mind seemed, except for most recently when he seemed terrified of water, solid. He realized he needed that man.
â€œHawksworth!â€ he cried out as he fell unconscious. â€œDo the gems!â€
Barker thrust at Skern again but the man blocked the blade with his own. Though the blow was so powerful it actually hurt Skernâ€™s wrist, he laughed defiantly. He thrust at Barker again but the man desperately managed to parry the blow.
* * *
â€œTentacle behind you!â€ Hawksworth cried.
â€œWhat!?!â€ the cultist cried, spinning around.
Hawksworth ran by the man.
â€œHow dare you lie to me!â€ the cultist said as he gave chase.
* * *
Hawksworth ran back into the terrible chamber. He saw the others fighting against whom he assumed was Barker and spotted Selwyn lying, dead or unconscious, between the three altars. Cultists were still being flung about or dragged into the terrible maelstrom.
Godfrey rushed Barker, spinning his pistol around and using it as a club. He swung wildly, striking him ineffectually on the arm.
â€œGet away from me you obnoxiously fat man!â€ Barker snapped at him. â€œIâ€™ll murder you in a moment. Hold still.â€
He swung at Skern but the man parried yet another blow and then made a riposte that Barker had to parry.
â€œIâ€™ve been studying this all my life, you hulking sod,â€ Barker said.
The cultist ran into the room after Hawksworth but stopped and ran away with a cry. Hawksworth ran to Selwyn and saw a lot of blood while Godfrey tried to beat on Barker with his pistol.
â€œWait your turn!â€ Barker yelled at the man.
He thrust at Skern but the man parried the blow with ease. Skern stabbed at the man once again, ineffectually. Barker laughed in his face again.
â€œOh dear,â€ he said. â€œSkern, isnâ€™t it?â€
Hawksworth knelt between the altars. He cut his hand and removed all three of the stones, making sure he got blood on all of them. He shoved the blue one back into the left slot, guessing order mattered. He remembered the person on the left had been killed first and hoped that was the order the stones were to be put in.
Godfrey struck Barker but the blow just bounced off him. The man growled and lowered his arm.
â€œFine,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™ll kill you next.â€
Barker reared back and thrust at Godfreyâ€™s chest but Skern leapt to the side and parried the blow with his own sword. In a fit of terror, Godfrey voided his bowels. Then Skern tried to stab Barker again but the man managed to parry the blow.
â€œWhat fools you mortals be!â€ the madman cried.
Hawksworth shoved the green stone into the slot in the right altar and then the yellow one into the center altar, saying the magical words. The crystals seemed to melt into position, fusing with the stone of the faces and interrupting the flow of sacrificial blood. There was an earth-shattering howl and the pool churned as the tentacles were sucked into the now-reversed maelstrom, some still clutching dead or shrieking cultists. The large yellow crystal ceased to pulse and the pool suddenly appeared to freeze in mid-motion, becoming a solid swirling shape â€¦ sealed.
The cultists, those that remained, bayed for blood.
Godfrey circled behind Barker and struck him an ineffectual blow to the back with his backwards turned pistol. Barker pivoted towards him.
â€œYou filthy, fat, sweaty old man!â€ he screamed.
He thrust at Godfrey and Skern again flung his own sword into the way but was unable to parry the blow. Barker stabbed Godfrey in the left hand and drew blood. Skern stabbed at Barker again but the man parried the blow once more.
â€œYou fools!â€ Barker cried. â€œYouâ€™ve ruined everything! You meddling fools!â€
Hawksworth picked up the blunderbuss near Selwyn and walked towards Barker with the weapon. He got as close as he thought he could and then shoved the gun at Skern.
â€œSkern!â€ he said. â€œUse this bloody thing!â€
Skern grabbed the blunderbuss with his left hand. Barker slipped behind Godfrey and tried to grab the man, but Godfrey ducked out of the way with an agility that seemed to belie his great weight.
â€œHelp me, you fools!â€ Barker shouted at the cultists.
â€œDuck!â€ Skern yelled, dropping his sword and slipping the blunderbuss into his right hand.
Godfrey dropped to the floor.
â€œNooo!â€ Barker cried.
Skern fired but the horrible man leapt to one side and the blast missed him completely. Hawksworth ran back to Selwyn and threw him over his shoulder.
â€œStop them, you fools!â€ Barker yelled.
Only four cultists were left. The rest had fled, been taken by Hastur, or gone mad. One man sat in a corner, drooling. The four that came to Barkerâ€™s aid drew knives and moved towards Skern, who picked up his rapier. Hawksworth, carrying Selwyn, started to make his way over the horrible water that seemed to have turned to stone. It was uneven and rough and he moved slowly as he crossed it.
â€œRun!â€ he yelled.
Godfrey stood up and flung his knife at Barker but the blade flew off into the room. Two of the cultists rushed Skern and tried to stab him.
â€œTake Lucy!â€ Skern yelled. â€œTake Lucy!â€
Skern parried the first blow and the second struck Skern with his blade, but it struck a piece of leather on the manâ€™s clothing and fell out of his hands. The cultist struggled to recover the dagger. Skern stabbed the other man in the left hand, the one that was obviously his primary hand. With a cry, the cultist dropped his knife.
Hawksworth was making his way across the terrible frozen stone water even as Godfrey picked up Lucy and started to make his way to the exit. The yellow gem suddenly exploded, shattering into fragments.
Barker fled out the door.
The cultist who had dropped his knife picked it back up as the injured man fled. Another cultist attacked Skern as well and one of them managed to stab the man in the right shoulder. He fell back with a cry. The man laughed maniacally and Hawksworth looked back as Skern stumbled back and onto the altar, screaming one last profanity.
â€œHeâ€™s dead!â€ the cultist cried. â€œIâ€™ve killed him!â€
Godfrey headed across the stone water towards the exit. Hawksworth put Selwyn down on the strange floor and looked back to see Skernâ€™s prone form.
â€œGodfrey, we have to save Skern!â€ he cried out.
The three cultists with daggers saw Hawksworth and Godfrey. Hawksworth unsheathed his rapier.
â€œAre you ready, Godfrey?â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œUh â€¦â€ Godfrey said.
Hawksworth ran to the left altar, hoping to use it as partial cover. Godfrey put Lucy down and went to Hawksworth. The two stood back to back. There was a terrible stench.
â€œWhatâ€™s that smell?â€ Hawksworth said.
â€œNothing!â€ Godfrey said. â€œNothing! Itâ€™s the corpses!â€
â€œCome brothers!â€ one of the cultists said. â€œWeâ€™ll make them all pay!â€
One of the men ran around either side of the altar while the third tried to climb up onto the thing. Godfrey stabbed ineffectually at the man who faced him while Hawksworth tried to stab the man who had climbed up onto the altar but missed. Two of the men tried to attack Hawksworth, one of them slashing the man in the left arm. The man who fought Godfrey wasnâ€™t able to hurt him. The men exchanged another set of blows without anyone being hurt.
Godfrey stabbed the man he faced in the crotch. The man yelled out a curse and seemed angry.
â€œYou son of a bitch!â€ he cried. â€œYou tried to stab me in the balls!â€
He slashed Godfrey in the arm. Hawksworth continued to exchange ineffectual blows with the other two men. They were not any more effective against him. Godfrey and his opponent didnâ€™t do much better but then one of the men stabbed Hawksworth in the shoulder. Godfrey stabbed the man he faced in the chest and he went down with a cry. The man on the altar leapt down and fled while the last man went for Hawksworthâ€™s eyes with his dagger but missed. Hawksworth swung again at the man but missed and then Godfrey turned on the man.
â€œUnless you start running, youâ€™re going to end up like your friend here!â€ the fat banker yelled.
That seemed to unnerve the last cultist.
â€œWhatâ€™s that smell?â€ the man cried. â€œOh my God!â€
The last cultist fled the terrible chamber.
â€œGodfrey, we did it!â€ Hawksworth said.
He sniffed at the air. There was a foul stench.
â€œDid that man you killed shite himself?â€ he asked.
â€œYes,â€ Godfrey said. â€œYes, he did. And only him.â€
â€œDid you get some on you? Did you fall in the shite?â€
â€œYes, just a little bit. Sat down in it. It was horrible.â€
Godfrey and Hawksworth got the Skern, Selwyn, and Lucy up the steep steps and back out to the boat, leaving the spent pistols and blunderbusses behind. They rowed away from the terrible place.
â€œI think Iâ€™d usually be scared of this, but I just donâ€™t care anymore,â€ Hawksworth said.
They managed to get hold of a cart from a local in London and took the three unconscious forms to Dr. Whitewoodâ€™s house. He took care of them as best he could. Skern was woken though he was unable to wake Selwyn, who woke on his own within another hour. He also saw to Hawksworthâ€™s and Godfreyâ€™s wounds and woke Lucy Henry. She was eternally grateful for being rescued, especially to Octavian Skern. She pledged her undying love for the man.
â€œMadam, I am a gentleman,â€ he replied. â€œAnd thus I saved your life. But I am not a fool.â€
â€œI was led astray!â€ she said.
â€œSpeak to me now more.â€
â€œI was led astray by him! Please, Octavian, please! Love of my life! You saved me from this terrible man!â€
Skern spurned her.
* * *
Octavian Skern continued his work at Fletcherâ€™s Print House. Though he told Lucy Henry if she was ever in need of his help and ever felt her life threatened, he would be there, he ignored her letters and messages, spurning her even as she had spurned him.
* * *
Reginald Selwyn had collected all of the books and papers they found in pursuit of the investigation and began trying to steal ideas from playwrights and other writers in order to finish the play The King in Yellowe. With the money heâ€™d stolen from Van der Wyckâ€™s store and the dead man himself, he lived a little more comfortably for some time. He survived the plague that year and even studied the terrible spell called Grasp of Cthulhu from Barkerâ€™s Under the Yellow Sign. It took him about six months but he finally thought he understood and spell and would be able to cast it.
* * *
Vincent Hawksworth gave up his job as censor and Queenâ€™s Man and returned to the Globe Theater to continue his acting career. More inspired by the strange things he saw, he found himself an even better actor, even though the Globe closed that summer for almost a year due to the terrible outbreak of the plague in London and, indeed, across England.
He wrote whenever he wasnâ€™t acting. In his writing, he tried to depict more accurately what real fighting looked like: â€œIt smelled of shite and there was a lot of missing.â€ He was advised by Kent and other playwrights that the rabble didnâ€™t want to see that kind of stage combat.
* * *
Peter Godfrey spent the next several nights plagued by terrible, insidious nightmares. Each night they became more intense and real and he saw more and more of lost Carcosa, Lake Hali, the King in Yellow, and even more than he ever wanted to see of dread Hastur. However, though each night left him more shaken and less sound, he was finally free of the terrible haunting dreams less than a week later, his reason and sanity intact.
He went to the country after that, spending the summer and the fall away from plague-filled London. He returned to the bank and continued his money-lending career the following winter.
One day, cleaning out a drawer, he came across Marloweâ€™s diary, which he had not returned after reading some months before. He took it directly to London Bridge and chucked it into the Thames.