Our investigators dig into the power players behind the upcoming theatrical performance of the Golden Prophet, learning through both means subtle and direct.
Cast of Characters
Cindy as Babs Cook the Photographer & Pulp Movie Concept Artist
Caitie as Joe Johnson the Drifter, Car Mechanic, & Liberator of Oddities
Kelly as Sophia Nye, Ever-Glowing Star of the Silver Screen
Jacob as Jack Keel, Lover of Ten Gallon Hats (on hiatus)
Tyler as Dietrich Munds the Quicksilver-Handed Special Agent Impersonator
Ted as Karl Wirtz the Bookish Strong Arm with a Knack for Knowledge
Charlie as Special Agent Travis "Spooky" Taggart of the Bureau
The phone rings at Silverine Salon off the Las Vegas Strip. It's for one Sofia Nye, there treating herself and her companion Babs Cook for the upcoming premier of the Golden Prophet at the Sahara Casino the following night. It turns out, seats in the fifth row are available after all, but have you heard?
Karl Wirtz firms hands flap open the Sun Times Morning Edition. The cover story, "Leading Man Stabs Officer" is wide across the front page.
Joe Johnson jolts awake, bedsheets wrapped around her, the smell of rot in her nostrils.
Dietrich Munds shivers, two bare bulbs glimmer overhead in his jail cell, swaying and casting odd shadows about. Down the hall and out of sight someone moans against a muffling cloth. His night's rest, paid for by the state of Nevada, was interrupted by an incarceration sometime after midnight.
Special Agent Travis Taggart opens his eyes, his fingers in a gentle fist as if holding the head of an iron staff.
(For more on the dreams three of our investigators, see our Previously On, S05 Companion post.)
With hair done, paper read, and rest awoken from, they gather at the Comet Diner to discuss. Turns out, the late night guest of the state of Nevada was none other than Harry Standiford, the lead actor of the Golden Pharaoh. Someone new has stepped into the role, but who is still a mystery. Thanks to Dietrich's lodging, he knows where to find Mr. Standiford, who has apparently gone a bit off his rocker. Taggart and Nye could make quite the psychoanalytic pair for learning more about Mr. Standiford. Laslty, Dietrich mentioned to Taggart a word or a place he dreamt of: Carcosa.
Flipping through sketches of the strange sign painted on the massive ersatz papyri at the Sahara, Dietrich thought he might learn more by returning to the hotel and finding work. Babs and Karl decided to head to the library to research any historical or mythological origin for either the sign, the playwright Amir Slama, or anything else that might aid them. Joe, however, decided the tables were the bet place to spend her time.
The investigators split into three groups to learn more. Dietrich picked up a shave and an outfit to go undercover at the Sahara Casino, Karl and Babs went to go research Egyptian myth at the library, and Sofia went with her pair of specs to the jailhouse with Special Agent Taggart. Dietrich was put to work but wandered on upstairs to find a meeting with Barry the bellhop. Turns out the Sahara doesn't much like new recruits bumming around on the clock when they're supposed to be on the floor, so he got bounced out. Taggart and Sofia had a chat with Harry Standiford, the former lead of the Golden Pharaoh. He was a little out of sorts, but he spoke of the witch and, with the mention of Carcosa, he began to jabber. "The King is the Crown, the Crown is the Key, the Key is the Prince," he repeated, louder each time until Sofia gave some shock therapy to the chap by way of a backhand. The Witch, he suggested, had found a way to foul up the leading man, but what did this all mean? Meanwhile at the library the pair didn't have the best luck finding anything on Egyptian myth, but there were stories about premiers of the King in Yellow and how it lead to madness and, perhaps, more... Oh, and Amir is fairly common, as it turns out, since it is Arabic for "Prince."
Joe Johnson hit up the tables to earn a few bucks, too.
Reconvening and sharing yarns, they then took up a room in the Sahara itself, called on room service in order to meet this Barry fellow--oh yeah, Standiford had mentioned Barry in his ravings, which only connected when Dietrich told his tale. Barry played his part of a lowly room service fellow for a little while, but turned out that he was caring some organic powder that smelled pungently of dirty socks in his pocket. Couldn't be any good news there. Oh, and he was carrying around shownotes for one Gloria Hansen, who had taken up as the new lead for the Golden Pharaoh. Curious, indeed. Barry went from innocent to downright menacing with all that. He tried to make a break for it, but they tied him up, discussed doing worse, but turned him in to the Taggart's cells at the field office.
Turns out the organic powder was a bit of powdered mushrooms, the kind that make you go a little loony. Mr. Standiford hadn't gone so much looney as had a case of reefer madness! That and the peculiar nature of this King in Yellow-Golden Pharaoh business had done a number on him, but perhaps it would wear off. With this bit in tow, they went back to the Sahara and "detained" Miss Hansen, the new star, and her director Amir Slama. There was a brief stand off, the show must go on and all that buzz, but they came in swearing that they'd get on with their show the next night, hell or highwater.
At the field office, Sofia Nye had a little tete-a-tete with Miss Gloria Hansen, who didn't mind going toe-to-toe in the spotlight show biz. Neither budged, but Hansen was, after all, in a cell for the time being. Taggart took up with Amir Slama, who seemed to have a response for just about anything. Taggart threw papers at the man, but with an attorney in tow, they slogged on through them. None of the reports on a Gloria Hansen made sense, the young lady couldn't have been older than ten when those arrest records were filed...
Taking the opportunity for some mischief, Karl and Joe went to investigate Slama's quarters in the Sahara--Dietrich may have had some knowledge of the layout given his short tenure there. The place looked well in order, if a little underused. There were drafts of the play and notes, but what really stood out with a false base in the nightstand drawer. And inside: a half dozen passports with just as many names...
Eager to crack this nut, Taggart and Dietrich dropped the bombshell: the Crown. Amir Slama and Gloria Hansen didn't much appreciate that, but it was out, now. The response was obvious and crosshairs, little did our investigators know, had been squared.
The next morning our thespians were released with their attorney. The party, save Taggart who had created a mess of paperwork for himself, met in Sofia Nye's hotel room, the tickets for the evening's performance set in an envelope on the entrance-side table. The party conversed about what to do when room service, unbidden, came a-knocking. Well, they were a little overeager as three young men tumbled into the room with champagne bottle, gun, and bludgeon in hand. They were no match for the investigators, who subdued them and learned they had some favor with Gloria Hansen. Was she the witch in question?
Oh, and a gun had gone off.
Coming up the service elevator were more bus boys, guns in hand, though they didn't have much of an eye for using them as one promptly shot himself in the foot. Hotel guests poked their heads out only to turn in again. Dietrich, Joe, and Jack ran for the fire escape while Babs and Sofia locked up in the hotel room. Dietrich took the first of the armed bus boys out, but the second got a lucky shot in, sending Dietrich to the grated fire escape. Jack ran for his truck while Joe scurried back up and landed her trusty woodaxe to the remaining bell hop--the first still nursing his blasted foot--felling him. She helped the gravely wounded Dietrich down and rushed them to the hospital.
Sofia gave a call to Taggart that there was more important work to be done than papers, who then helped to handle the mess now plaguing the Golden Nugget hotel's third floor rooms. Meanwhile, the doctors patched up Dietrich over the next hour, narrowly saving his life.
Sofia, Babs, and Taggart went back to the Sahara, now a cluttered mess as well as a declared crime scene. The journalists were about, guests were checking out, and all those ticket-holders were fighting to get refunds if this special premier were canceled after all. By the time they made it up to the room, Amir Slama's room was empty.
Jack, meanwhile, needed to take the air out front the hospital. Around the corner came a beautiful woman, none other than Gloria Hansen. Before Jack could do a thing, she waved her hands around and whispered words of friendship. They had a way with the weary veteran and, well, of course Gloria Hansen was an old friend. Jack led his old friend back to the hospital room. Joe was greeted similarly, by an old, elegant friend. Dietrich, on the other hand, with fresh stitches in his side was ready to check out. He pulled his gun from his bag and fired once, twice, a third time. Gloria crumpled, and with it her hold on Jack and Joe.
Using the handle of the gun, Dietrich shattered the window. Nurses were in there already. Another patient screamed. Doctors came in to patch up the rising star fallen and bleeding out on the hospital room floor. And outside, the three hobbled into Jack's truck and high-tailed it out of Las Vegas.
With our investigators scattered and wounded, for the time being at least they appear triumphant in preventing... what, exactly? A play? Some neon-lit Vegas act? A musician with a devoted following was left gravely wounded or dead in a hospital room and a foreign auteur vanished to who knows where. But thus, the Golden Pharaoh concludes.
Image Credit: The Cthulhu Shop