The Mystery of Loch Feinn

Game Master greg white 722

In the spring of 1941, agents of Department M, a branch of England's security services dealing with the most outré of threats, is sent to the remote Scottish Highlands, to investigate a possible Nazi menace on the shores of desolate Loch Feinn.

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You are hastily summoned to a briefing in the Croydon mansion that serves as Department M HQ.

Attending is your Section Head, Dr. Braitwaithe; with him is a RAF major, and an unassuming man in civilian clothes.

"Major Tolling, Mr. Kolb, these are the agents whom we were intending to entrust with the matter that you have brought before us."

In front of the available, uncomfortable, seats, there's an unlabeled folder. Opening the folder reveals an aerial photograph of a long, narrow lake, clenched between rugged hills.

"That, ladies and gentlemen," Mr. Kolb begins, "is Loch Feinn, in Scotland."

"We have information from a source, code-name 'Branch', an individual highly placed in the Nazi command, that an active, German operation, Wasser Pferd , or 'water horse', is being staged there. What exactly 'water horse' is meant to do is not entirely clear: 'Branch' believes it may introduce some virulent poison, or plague agent, into our lakes and river-ways."

"Not everyone believes that 'Branch's' information is credible," Major Tolling snorts.

"We cannot risk the catastrophic consequences of doing nothing, and finding out there was a real threat; when that threat has already struck," Mr. Kolb counters.

Their bickering seems habitual, the echo of an argument that has become stale from repetition.

"Your cover," Dr. Braitwaithe says, forestalling any more argument, "is that you are surveying the area for the location of a possible prisoner of war camp."

Well I'd consider it an honor to research any information provided. In fact, I can consult Tobin's "Glossary of Fantastical Creatures in Myth" for the term "water horse". I'm confident something will pop out.

Male Human Author of Planetary Romances

"My experience from the Great War is that the Krauts are cruel but also quite clever," Edward says. "If there is any material that needs to be researched I would be grateful for the opportunity to help. I have been researching manuscripts from the Holy Land for years and possess quite a bit of experience in this field."

Dr. Edward R. Carter, III, lights a cigarette. His hands trembles.

The Lieutenant Commander nods and snaps to attention. "Sir! It will be an honor to investigate this 'Water Horse', sir! Anything to give the Huns a good rogering, sir!" The young man is tall, thin and military to a T. His hair is cut short and his uniform is impeccable, but there's something fey about his eyes, a sort of look that says he's seen a bit more than is normal or advisable.

"Question, sir. If we discover enemy action, are we cleared to engage or is this reconnaissance only, sir?"

"I'm sure a trip to Scotland will do me good, though I'll be sure to pack a brolly or two, I hear the rain up there can be relentless." Maisie watches her companions with a faint smile.

Male Human Author of Planetary Romances

Edward puts his cigarette on the ashtray, stands, and bows respectfully to Dr. Braitwaithe, Major Tolling and Mr. Kolb. He then extends a handshake to Mr. Chambers, Miss Chase and the Lieutenant Commander.

Edward sports a tweed jacket, vest, bow tie; he has placed his top coat and fedora on one of the uncomfortable chairs.

"Gentlemen, Miss Chase, I should add that Hitler and his thugs have been scouring the Holy Land for years now. I have no recollection of a wasser pferd in particular, but their obsession with the parasciences has become legendary in academic circles. If this is part of that endeavour then I am most anxious. Fritz will stop at nothing to spread his evil to the free nations. Nothing is sacred. I saw things during the First War, ladies and gentlemen. Things a man should not have to see."

Edward walks to the window and stares outside. There is a faraway look in his eyes. He shudders involuntarily.

Dr. Braitwaithe nods. "The nearest town is the hamlet of Gregor. You'll take the daily train to Iverness. Service to Gregor, from Iverness, is only available Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 3:30 in the afternoon."

It is Friday.

"If you find that enemy agents are active, you are to act on your own initiative; if the opportunity to apprehend these agents is present, and you can do so with a minimum of risk to your-selves, then by all means do so. Still though, I think a premium must be placed on gathering good intel first, gentlemen, do you agree?"

He looks around, at Major Tolling and Mr. Kolb, who nod agreement.

"First and foremost," Mr. Kolb says over steepled fingers, "Is determining exactly what kind of threat wasser pferd poses."

You can, make a 1 point spend to learn 'Branch's identity: cite an ability, and how you used the ability to tap the 'departmental' grape-vine.

Departmental Rumor | 1 point spend:
It is the subject of many a whispered conversation that Deputy fuhrer Rudolf Hess, who had just weeks past, dramatically flown to Scotland, and into British captivity, brought news of some dangerous Nazi threat or super-weapon

Male Human Author of Planetary Romances

Out of character question::
Would it be appropriate to use Edward's Flattery Skill here? Maybe he gained favor with a secretary who had been a former student of his. Edward could've told the secretary that he/she had been a wonderful student, etc. Would that be a good way of using this skill? I won't have Edward look at the departmental rumor until the Keeper has ruled. I'm new to this particular game.

Edward Carter, that's entirely reasonable. I'm just looking for some credible way that you could justify using the ability to get "inside information".

I have nothing for the identity of (code name:) Branch. Instead, I will use Library Use (provided one is available) and Art History to make a presentation on the term Water Horse. If I'm very lucky, I'll even have slides showing valued pieces of art depicting the creature (mostly paintings, but still).

"Sirs, I will use best judgment and my utmost care to ensure that this Water Horse kerfuffle is nipped in the bud, sirs." The Lt Commander snaps to attention until dismissed.

Once outside, he relaxes visibly. "I say, chaps and ladies, this does seem a jolly romp in the Highlands, doesn't it? To think, the opportunity to bloody Adolph's nose and still enjoy proper English breakfast? Excellent!"

Whenever I picture the Lt Cmdr, I picture Hugh Laurie in Blackadder's WWI episodes...

Male Human Author of Planetary Romances

Edward, who now works at university following the sudden shock that crippled his writing career, came upon a former student working as a secretary at Croydon Mansion.

Prior to the meeting with Department M, Edward told her what a pleasure it had been having her as a student and that he seldom found a girl as enthused by ancient Greek as she. Flattered (he used Flattery Skill) the secretary blushed and whispered in his ear the departmental rumour.

Edward nodded and then maintained his composure during the meeting.

The mention of breakfast makes his mouth water.

To Lt Cmdr Readington-Smythe: "Bacon, eggs, Lorne sausage, grilled toe-mah-toes, and perhaps potato scones, if fortune smiles upon us."

I picture Dr. Edward R. Carter, III as Indiana Jones' father, played by an Sean Connery in the 1989 movie.

So, as mentioned its Friday. It is assumed that you'll use Saturday to make your travel arrangements, and do any kind of preliminary research.
Sunday you'll take the train to Iverness.

Danforth Chambers: So you'll be spending the day at the reading room of the British Museum, using Art History and Library Use.

Male Human Author of Planetary Romances

What is the date? I assume, since it's spring, it's prior to the June 22 German invasion of the Soviet Union.

Can I arrange us suitable lodgings for once we arrive, I'm not sure what remote areas of Scotland were like for communication in the 40's.
If I can't reach anybody out there I'll just spend some time assisting Danforth with his research.

Male Human Author of Planetary Romances

"Lodgings and train fare may be a bit of a sticky wicket for me, as I don't have the income I once enjoyed as a novelist. Lady and gentlemen, I fear that, as a university employee, you have me at a disadvantage," Edward says.

He tugs at a thread on his sports coat, then thinks better of it. Were it not for King and Country, he thinks, I would simply go home now and avoid further embarrassing myself. These people are better bred than I. I fear I may be out of my depth.

Rommel and Wavell are sparring in North Africa. German paratroops have overrun Crete. The British navy is hunting the Bismarck in the North Atlantic. The nocturnal bombing of British cities continues. And yes, Hitler's invasion of the USSR is still a little over a month away.

So remember, your cover is that you're scouting for a possible location for a POW camp: you will be provided with a small stipend, and 'chits' for things like dining and lodging.

Danforth Chambers : So 'water horse' is a kind of generic, folk-tale aquatic monster, usually serpentine or 'wyrm-like'. Most lakes, including Loch Feinn, have one. It's bad luck to see one, with dire consequences for unlucky witnesses.

Some tales state that 'water horses' can act as messengers for the powers infernal, bringing instructions to the witches and warlocks who practice their dark arts by the sides of fathomless tarns.

Unnatural mists and fogs often accompany the appearance of such creatures.

You find several pictures depicting the mythic beasts; from medieval wood-cuts to more modern water-colors. You settle for a Victorian age engraving that shows a fanciful creature, bearing more than a passing resemblance to a Chinese dragon, swimming across a lake, a desolate ruin of a castle in the background.

So, I went back to the map, and realized that the location is further north than I first realized. The largest, nearby city is Inverness, on the Moray Firth. So that being said, it is probably most likely that you'll have your meeting with Braitwaithe and Co., Thursday. Friday can be spent on preparations. Saturday and Sunday will be spent on trains.

Maisie Chase : Do you want to see if you have school or society friends amidst the Scottish highlands?

Yes, Scottish Lairds and their families seem to wander all over the place, I'm sure I must know someone

Ask about the tapestries!

The Lt Cmdr will head back, pack and repack his travel bag, spend some time at the range and stare longingly at the planes as they take off and land, wishing he was back in one.

(SHUT UP! :D hahaha I was *literally* Google-searching Scottish Tapestries for just that reason! LOL)

Ah my dear Lady, so good of you to help me out with this, I feared I would be spending all of my time alone. It's not often that I have such charming accompaniment to my research. I'm afraid such work does not lend itself well to socializing, which I would imagine would be why there has never been a MRS Chambers. Do be a dear and pass me the "Stokstad and Cothren" please, errr, no, the large indigo one with the gold filigree, yours is the "Brommer". Gerald is accurate and intellectually stimulating, but he's a bit of a desert. By which I mean to say he is too dry. No spirit...

Danforth chatters on, blithely unaware of any rule of silence in the library; and if Maisie is discomfited, Danforth remains resolutely oblivious. Danforth's idle rambling do not indicate any sort of romantic interest in Ms Chase. Apparently he is just happy to have some assistance.

Male Human Author of Planetary Romances

Dr. Edward Carter returns to university to wrap up his schedule for the week.

He stops by his college's modest but elderly library to look up geographical information about the Loch Feinn region.

This will help him tell a more convincing lie if anyone asks about the POW camp.

He will also check Inverness area newspapers to see if there had been any Hitler-sympathizers or pro-Nazi activities up there before the war.

I'll have him spend 1 point of Library Use and 1 point of History.

Edward packs for the train ride.

He makes sure to pack his Smith & Wesson 0.44 caliber revolver and bullets. (A gift from his second cousin who lives in a small, eerie fishing town in Massachusetts.)

He is chain-smoking cheap cigarettes.

Edward Carter : So you don't have to spend points for what are core clues. The 'core clue', now, revealed by either Library Use or History, is that there is a castle on the Loch: the ancestral home of the MacLaireags. They backed 'Bonny Prince Charlie' in the Jacobite Uprising, and were driven into exile with the failure of that cause. Their lands were given to a loyalist clan, the MacAllans. There is an 'optional' clue, that you can spend for, either History or Library Use, 1 point.

Optional Clue | 1 Point:
The Maclaireags had a reputation for wickedness and depravity, and apparently the MacAllan's inherited this curse with their lands; as that family also seem to degenerate into wickedness

Maisie Chase : So exactly how much aid and support do you want? At a 3 point Credit spend a 'very good friend' can put their staffed hunting/fishing lodge at your disposal.

Nothing so grand, though the thought is tempting. Simple lodgings and a local a guide will suffice.

Male Human Author of Planetary Romances

I'll have Edward use one point of History to read the optional clue. Thanks for the clarification on the mechanic

The MacAllans, Edward thinks. Once you hear about them you never forget them. Fitting that the Hun would pick that area to do their dirty work. Very fitting indeed.

Edward has these thoughts while he pours himself a whiskey. Then he pours himself another.

So anything anybody wants to do before you board the train?

Maisie, you are given the name of someone who should be willing to put you up in the hamlet of Gregor, at the southern end of the loch. Consider that one point of 'Credit' spent.

Thanks, I can't think of anything to do on the train.

Male Human Author of Planetary Romances

Edward is packed and ready to ride. Nothing left to do.

He tries to board last in order to keep the others from seeing his used, ratty luggage.

The Leftenant is ready to go!

So you board your train, on a dreary, gray day. The train is only about third full, and the few passengers aboard are mainly in uniform. The train pulls way from the station, and the scarred and burnt suburbs of London recede, become blurred and indistinct in the rain.

Readington-Smythe sighs deeply as the train hits its speed, feeling for a moment again the thrill of watching the landscape fly past. It's almost like he can pretend he's flying again. After a few moments, he shakes himself out of his revelrie, stands and straightens his uniform and goes in search of his comrades, hoping they know more than he about this upcoming mission.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I do hope you might have some sort of idea what dastardly deeds this business could be about, for I find myself quite uneducated on the subject!"

Male Human Author of Planetary Romances

Edward lights a pipe, puffs on it, and then finds a seat near his companions. His eyes are sad as they pass the bombed-out buildings north of London.

He turns and casts his gaze at the others.

"The castle was the ancestral home of the MacLaireags," he says. "They backed Bonny Prince Charlie, if you can believe it."

He unfolds a section of newspaper, which is yellowing around the edges, and passes it around. On it is a photo of a Scotsman holding a sign "Germany for Germans."

"That's one of the MacAllans there, at a rally in Nuremberg, according to the byline. I don't know how long he was there, or for what reason. But we do know MacAllans now own the castle, whether by inheritance or betrothal."

Edward studies the Lt Cmdr, Miss Chase and Mr. Chambers.

"The newspaper also goes into several unsolved crimes in the area and tries to make a linkage. It's hardly more than a sensationalist piece. Shoddy journalism. But I do know that members of the MacAllans have been brought in for questioning by the local police at times."

The train rolls on through the day, and into the night.

The next morning the train pulls into Edinburgh, nestled at the foot of the hill called 'Arthur's Seat.' There's time for a quick breakfast, scones and tea; and then you change trains, for the Inverness train, which will take you across the Grampian Mountains, into the Upper Highlands.

Male Human Author of Planetary Romances

As they travel across the mountains Edward asks the others if they'd like to share their stories.

"I was London-born," he says. "My father was a watchmaker. Ran a small shop in Crouch End where I learned a lot of mechanical skills and also how to fire a pistol. Rough neighborhood, Crouch End.

When I wasn't at the shop I was in the library reading H.G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs, and penning my own dastardly tales. At age nineteen I went off to France, served with Kitchner's Mob. Later reassigned to MI6 when they learned of my skill with fine tools. Helped with code breaking and so forth.

All the while I kept writing my planetary and scientific romances. You may have heard of some of them: "The Colour on Venus", or the more famous, "The Call of Olympus Mons."
I made my first professional sale in 1919 while I was caring for Father. He succumbed to the flu epidemic of that year.

I supported myself by selling stories to the pulps in America. My final sale was based on my experiences in the Battle of Mons. It was called, "The Thing in the Trenches." Generated a fair amount of controversy, so I moved on to work at university. Our department specializes in obscure manuscripts from the British Museum. Mostly ancient documents from Jerusalem. All in all, an unremarkable life."

If anyone is watching closely, they'll notice that Edward doesn't make eye contact when he talks about the story about the trenches.

He also switches from his pipe to cigarettes and chain smokes.

Some nice background there sir. I'll reward that with renewing a point in any pool you've so far spent from; or you could take an 'extra' one time point in any pool.

So the dotted line moves across the map of the Scottish Highlands. Your last train is an ancient relic, that could have been built by James Watt himself! The train rattles and shakes itself into the town of Gregor, at the southern end of Loch Feinn. To say that the town is rustic is an understatement: you seem, like a character in one of Mr. Carter's improbable tales, to have travelled a century back in time.

You find the boarding house recommended to Ms. Chase, and upon entering, are greeted by the smell of a hearty stew bubbling in the pot.

Take your things up to your rooms, Mrs. MacDonnell says, And wash up, supper will be on in 'bout an hour!

Male Human Author of Planetary Romances

I'll renew Edward's Flattery. He needs all the charisma he can get.

The Lieutenant Commander brightens when Mr. Carter speaks of story 'The Call of Olympus Mons.' "I read that once! Jolly thrilling it was, though I confess I started at shadows for a week after that!"

Hauling bags hardly seems to dampen the Lieutenant's bright spirits as they enter the strange backward village. He helps anyone who needs it, happy to breathe the clear air of the Loch. At the boardinghouse, he nods politely to Mrs MacDonnell, obeying the command to settle in and clean up. He appears back below, now wearing a simple shirt and trousers, but still with his military bearing clearly showing in his ramrod straight spine and his tendency to respond with 'Yes, ma'am' and 'No, ma'am!'

Male Human Author of Planetary Romances

Edward does likewise, but doesn't have a change of proper clothes for dinner, so after washing up he simply puts his college professor attire back on.

Prior to dinner he offers a handshake to the Lieutenant Commander, thanking him for reading the story. "Wrote it for the Yanks, don't you know. They love a good adventure yarn across the pond. Robert Louis Stevenson, chip chip, and all that. But I must apologize for the more macabre elements. My charcaters are often too dour, they brood..."

Edward trails off, speaking more to himself than the officer or anyone else at the dinner.

The food is simple but hearty. Outside the shadows of twilight deepen, with the suddenness that you find in the high latitudes. In the gloom you see a mist rising on the Loch.

Like most cities and towns in England, Gregor maintains a black-out, so when the sun sets, the darkness will be positively Stygian.

"Apologize? Perish the thought, sir! It was a magnificent tale and I thoroughly enjoyed it!" Henry peers out the window at the mist. "Anyone fancy a jog around the Loch? I could use the kip!"

So the Loch runs along an almost perfectly north-south axis. The Loch is hemmed in by steep hills. At the south of the Loch, there's an outlet stream, which shares its name with the village.

Gregor, the village, sits alongside the stream, about a half mile south of the Loch. There's about a 6% grade from the mouth of the stream, to the town.

Male Human Author of Planetary Romances

Can Edward use a general ability here, "sense trouble", to see if there is anything about the loch area that's potentially hazardous?

He has 4 points in that skill

That's more for the detection of immediate threats, i.e; "the crazed cultist lurking in the shadows." The only real danger that you for-see with a walk to the lake and back is the danger of twisting an ankle on the treacherous ground in the fading light of dusk.

Mrs. MacDonnell tuts at the idea of a late evening ramble.

The Loch will still be there in the morning young man!

The Lt Cmdr smiles sheepishly. "Yes, ma'am, of course, ma'am." He looks a bit more upbeat as he asks "Do you happen to have a newspaper in these parts, ma'am?"

Mrs. MacDonnell gives Maisie a side-long glance, as if commiserating with her for having to put up with the follies of young men.

Well, I don't know if its much of a newspaper, but Donny Mclendon does put out a weekly broad-sheet, 'The Thistle', you'll find a copy on the side-board there.

She busies herself with gathering up the dinner-ware.

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