Carcosa... Once a great city, now lost and forgotten. born from the pen of Ambrose Bierce, it challenged the imagination of many writers through the years, each adding something to its mystery.
So we hear about it in the second scene of Act I of the madness inducing play "The Yellow King" written by Robert Chambers .
Along the shore the cloud waves break,
The twin suns sink behind the lake,
The shadows lengthen
Strange is the night where black stars rise,
And strange moons circle through the skies,
But stranger still is
Songs that the Hyades shall sing,
Where flap the tatters of the King,
Must die unheard in
Song of my soul, my voice is dead,
Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
Shall dry and die in
Little is know about the fictional play that makes all who ever saw or read it irrevocably insane. There are only glimpses of The King in Yellow throughout the literature.
In the Chambers' story "The Repairer of Reputations" we read:
"He mentioned the establishment of the Dynasty in Carcosa, the lakes which connected Hastur, Aldebaran and the mystery of the Hyades. He spoke of Cassilda and Camilla, and sounded the cloudy depths of Demhe, and the Lake of Hali. "The scolloped tatters of the King in Yellow must hide Yhtill forever," he muttered, but I do not believe Vance heard him.
Then by degrees he led Vance along the ramifications of the Imperial family, to Uoht and Thale, from Naotalba and Phantom of Truth, to Aldones, and then tossing aside his manuscript and notes, he began the wonderful story of the Last King."
A similar passage occurs in "The Yellow Sign", in which two protagonists have read The King in Yellow, and they now pass whatever little time they have before the madness set is, sitting by a fireplace and talking about the play:
"Night fell and the hours dragged on, but still we murmured to each other of the King and the Pallid Mask, and midnight sounded from the misty spires in the fog-wrapped city.
We spoke of Hastur and of Cassilda, while outside the fog rolled against the blank window-panes as the cloud waves roll and break on the shores of Hali."
Carcosa and The King in Yellow inspired writers from H.P. Lowrcraft to HBOs Nic Pizzolatto - the creator of the cult series True detective.
It remains one of those works that will echo through time, growing stronger and richer with each passing moment.