Read In the Court of the Yellow King Online

Authors: Tim Curran,Cody Goodfellow,TE Grau,Laurel Halbany,CJ Henderson,Gary McMahon,William Meikle,Christine Morgan,Edward Morris

Tags: #Mark Rainey, #Yellow Sign, #Lucy Snyder, #William Meikle, #Brian Sammons, #Tim Curran, #Jeffrey Thomas, #Lovecraft, #Cthulhu Mythos, #King in Yellow, #Chambers, #Robert Price, #True Detective

In the Court of the Yellow King

BOOK: In the Court of the Yellow King
11.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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This book is dedicated to

C. J. Henderson

who left us before he could see his story in print.

Cassilda’s Song

Along the
shore the cloud wave
s break,

The twin sun
s sink behind the la
ke,

The shadows lengt
hen

In Carcosa.

Stran
ge is the night wher
e black stars rise,

A
nd strange moons cir
cle through the skie
s,

But stranger still
is

Lost Carcosa.

Son
gs that the Hyades s
hall sing,

Where flap
the tatters of the
King,

Must die unhear
d in

Dim Carcosa.

Son
g of my soul, my voic
e is dead,

Die thou, u
nsung, as tears unshe
d

Shall dry and die
in

Lost Carcosa.

— The
King in Yellow,
Act 1, Scene 2

Introduction

It started with a play, a play with the power to warp reality and the minds of those who dared read it. There was a mysterious stranger –
Tell me, have you seen The Yellow Sign?
– a Phantom of Truth wearing a pallid mask of lies, and a king, The King, dressed in a robe of yellow tatters.

These characters appear in the banned play The King in Yellow, set within a palace in the city of Carcosa, on the shores of Lake Hali. With black stars overhead, where “shadows of men’s thoughts lengthen in the afternoon” Carcosa is lit by twin suns that sink into Lake Hali only to rise again the next day. Heaven protect those that have fallen under the thrall of The King, those that have seen the Yellow Sign, seen beneath the alien god’s scalloped tatters, and know the secret festering behind the Pallid Mask.

The authors within this book know the secret, have beheld The Yellow Sign, and from their creative madness have spun eighteen tales written in tribute to their Yellow King.

Some of weird fictions favourite sons and daughters have put madness to paper within these pages: W. H. Pugmire, Christine Morgan, Edward Morris, Stephen Mark Rainey, Jeffrey Thomas, Lucy A. Snyder, Tim Curran, Greg Stolze, William Meikle, Brian M. Sammons, Gary McMahon, Laurel Halbany, Robert M. Price, Pete Rawlik, Cody Goodfellow, T.E. Grau and the late and very much missed C.J. Henderson, whom this tome is dedicated to.

Their stories take place in the past, present and future, across space and time and within dimensions terrible to behold. Here you will read stories of CIA deals with otherworldly creatures, a cult deprogrammer with a deadly secret, Viking marauders, the secret history of Elvis Presley, the psychological terrors of haunted minds, and more.

The King in Yellow Mythos (or Carcosa Mythos, as it is sometimes called) began in 1895 with a collection of ten short stories by author Robert W. Chambers, and was published under the title
The King in Yellow
. It featured amongst other tales four interconnected stories: ‘The Yellow Sign’, ‘The Repairer of Reputations’, ‘The Mask’ and ‘In The Court of The Dragon.’

The tales are linked together by three main plot devices:

A mysterious and cursed play in book form, banned since its release, called
The King in Yellow
.

A supernatural entity mentioned in the play also called ‘The King in Yellow.’

A mysterious symbol called ‘The Yellow Sign’ which is connected with the play and the King in Yellow.

Within the fiction, those that read the play often end up insane or possessed by evil. Many suffer their minds being blasted by the horrible tale the play reveals or are haunted and hunted to death by the play’s monstrous avatars. Those that find The Yellow Sign suffer just as terribly as those that read the play.

Over the decades since Chambers collection first appeared, many other authors have written stories featuring his creations, adding to the rich canon of King in Yellow tales. This includes author H.P. Lovecraft, a name all fans of weird fiction will be aware of. Here, for your reading pleasure, is a collection we humbly add to the canon of the Mythos.

Welcome to your personal apocalypse, in The Court of the Yellow King.

Glynn Owen Barrass, August 2014

smiled at the canvas on the wall, and felt the shadow of its artist at my left. “It’s interesting, isn’t it?” I told the fellow without turning to him, not wanting to take my eyes from his painting. “I’ve never known buildings to look so... tattered. The city itself oozes of self-extinction, although how a city could commit suicide is a perplexing puzzle. There is not a trace of life, except for the two sirens in the sky; and yet they look so fantastic that one guesses that they may be mere figments of twisted dreaming. Look how they hang there in the air, horribly illuminated by the lifeless light of the twin porphyry moons, those globes of ghastly reddish-purple rock. Finally, our eyes take in the figure in its yellow robe, with its pallid artificial face and arms outstretched. I cannot comprehend why his hands should be so crimson.”

I turned my head slightly and looked at the artist; and although his eyes were fixed onto his creation, I knew that he listened to my language. “Now,” I continued, “there is one minute glimmer of natural light, and yet it emanates from an artificial relic. Do you see it, there, in the corner of the canvas, like something dropped onto the road, forgotten and forsaken? Yes, the brass crown with its synthetic jewels. One feels that it sits in proxy for something more authentic. And that long knife sitting beside it looks so nasty, doesn’t it, like some implement designed exclusively for mayhem? The entire thing makes one shiver and wish for movement, for some shifting of starlight or some song of wind. But those obsidian stars in the painted sky do not crawl, of that I am certain; and the air of that deserted city, one knows, is dead and still. And yet – and yet, how
captivating
it seems, this painted image, how it tugs at the brain and makes one wonder how it would feel to weep beneath those black stars, to inhale the lifeless air. However did the artist come up with such an image, one wonders?”

“It’s from a play,” my companion finally spoke.

“Indeed? And where would one find this play?”

He did not hesitate in his reply, and yet he spoke as one who had lost his way in reality. “I read it in a dream. I read it aloud, and the dream took on solidity. I could hear the waves of the lake breaking on the shore, and when the wind arose I could hear the flapping of the tatters of the King, that flapping that should never be sounded. They had such a strange rhythm, and I tried to sing in accompaniment; but my mouth was dry and my voice was dead, like the lost city that festered all around me. God, the
hard
light of those twin moons, burning their essence onto my eyes. And when I finally awakened, I could still feel that acidic impression on my eyes; and the world looks weird, and its inhabitants look like puppets.” He then turned to me, smiled and chuckled. “Sounds completely kookoo, I confess.”

I shrugged and returned my attention to his creation. “The fantastic artist sees the world in singular ways, divorced as he is from the dull world of dreary reality. How far more creative and captivating, to live within a dream.”

He turned his gaze again toward the painting. “I really
w
ould
prefer to live there, godless region though it may be. I wouldn’t have to pretend all the time. So, you like this?” He motioned to the canvas.

“Oh, yes,” I assured him, “for I long to live there myself.” Bowing to him, I walked to the door and exited the gallery. The sun was beginning to set, and the sky was a gorgeous bouquet of color. I stood there and admired the mixture of gold and mauve and amber, and I felt his shadow blend into my own.

“Are you an artist?” he asked.

“I exist within a realm of Art,” was my esoteric response. We walked away from the city, toward the hill that rose before us. It was early spring, and the trees that lined the lane were sweet of fragrance and delicate upon the eye. We had almost reached the apex of the hill when we encountered the murdered thing. The artist knelt before the feline corpse and studied it for a little while as the sun continued sinking; and then he removed the long knife from the cadaver and wiped its blade on a patch of clean grass. How deftly he handled the implement. Rising, he held the knife with hands that were clasped together as if in prayer.

We stood atop the hill and watched the death of day. He shut his eyes for a moment, and then he flinched as his body began to tilt. Sheepishly, he smiled. “Sorry. I’m feeling a bit faint.”

“When was your last meal? Your face looks haggard with hunger.”

He shrugged. “I’m an artist.”

Reaching into my pocket, I took out a folded piece of paper. “I don’t have any money on hand, but perhaps this will aid you.” Putting the knife under his arm, he took the paper and unfolded it. I do not think he understood the Yellow Sign traced onto the paper. Folding it again, he placed it in his bosom. The moon rose within the darkening sky, and we noticed the distant object that reflected the lunar light. “Ah,” I sighed, “it’s your brass crown. How golden it looks in this unearthly light.” We walked to it, and he bent to pick it up. “Yes,” I continued, nodding, “it is quite golden, and its diamonds are authentic. Will you don it, the golden diadem?”

How near the white moon seemed to the hill on which we stood. Its dull light shimmered on the crown as he lifted it above him and then placed it on his head. The leaves in one nearest tree began to rustle in the rising wind, and the branches of that tree began to sway. I could not help but warble.

“Atop the hill
he makes his stand,

In wind that sings a
saraband,

And we unc
over

Lost Carcosa.

“Th
ere are no stars on
this strange night,

J
ust one strange moon
that sheds its ligh
t

Upon our dream of

Lost Carcosa.

“See how
the moon divides it
s sphere

Into twin g
lobes that mock and
leer

Above the stree
ts of

Lost Carcosa.

“A
h, double globes, grot
esque, divine,

Evoke t
he ageless Yellow Si
gn,

Return of hearts
to

Lost Carcosa.”

I moved in little steps to the music of the wind and clapped my hands as he removed the long knife from under his arm and held it before him. Reaching into my bosom, I removed what was folded there and held it before him, winking. He watched as I unfolded the pallid mask and fastened it to my face. I think he shuddered just a little as the moon began to darken and divide. I watched the division of those spheres and listened to the sound of their wings unfolding. He turned at last to face them.

“They come to adore you, these sirens of suicide. They come to take ye home. You hold the key. Will you plunge it into place?”

I danced toward him and hummed a little song, unable to contain my joy. His length of hair moved in the wind aroused by dæmonic wings, and his mouth began to hum in accompaniment to my noise. Lowering his eyelids, he raised the knife and thrust it into his throat. Shouting in ecstasy, I moved to him and caught his flow of blood with greedy hands. Somehow, he refused to fall. I stretched out my arms and offered my hands to the creatures of nightmare, and laughed as they floated to me and kissed my palms. Their attention was then caught by the wobbling of his body. Licking their moistened mouths, they flocked to him and caught him by each arm. Bending, I picked up the fallen knife and raised it to their blurring forms, as they blended again into one solid sphere.

BOOK: In the Court of the Yellow King
11.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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