The Coven of Cannich

Back in Boston

As the Investigators recovered from their New York expedition, they noted that Vincente seemed to have been badly affected by the experience, becoming more morose and withdrawn. Not even an invitation to one of Dr Call's excellent dinners seemed to enthuse him, but eventually he was cajoled by the others into attending. After dinner Dr Call informed them that he had been corresponding with several people over the recent events and the activities of the Lodge and one of his correspondents a Mr. Jacob Hancock of Denver Colorado was convinced that his uncle, Henry Montague Hancock was in grave danger, if not already dead, due to the actions of The Order. He supplied several letters from his uncle which he had annotated with his observations.

The first letter, sent from Hancock House in Cannich in Scotland,  detailed the elder Hancock's request for something called a "star-stone". The second letter had a more sinister tone, detailing the elder Hancock's fears over the "Sons of Yog-Sothoth, while the third letter reported that things were now  all well in Cannich. Jacob however firmly believed the third letter to be a forgery and was willing to pay the expenses of anyone willing to investigate his uncle's whereabouts.

In the Village

James attempted to obtain access to the mysterious "star stone" at Miskatonic University in Arkham, referred to in Henry Hancock's letter, only to be informed that the artefact was missing. On asking his was informed that last person to request access was Professor Belphegor of "London University"

Cannich MapFunded by Mr.Hancock's generous offer, the Investigators took passage on the liner Ceres departing New York for Glasgow on the 15th. While the others, Virgil in particular, enjoyed the voyage, save one stormy day mid-Atlantic, Matthew remained in his cabin studying Cultes des Ghoules, finally emerging as the ported in Glasgow pale and clutching at his bible as if for reassurance! As they debarked James,  who had shared a cabin with Vincente, expressed concern to Dan that Vincente seemed increasingly withdrawn during the voyage.

While making arrangement for their onward trip James spotted a wanted poster in the Post Office for someone known as "Belphegor" and quite properly reported the apparent theft from Arkham to the authorities. They broke the journey for an overnight stop in Perth, the Investigators took the  train to Inverness where James then hired a car to take them on to Cannich. They did some research locally, discovering confirmation of Henry Hancock's recent return from Africa with his friend Dr.David Chisolm.

Next morning bright and early, they headed off to Cannich, taking rooms in the King's Head Inn. When asked about Hancock, the innkeeper, Fergus MacInnes,Mr. MacInnes  seemed surprised and said that  he thought Mr Hancock and his "nervy" friend had returned to Africa after only a brief stay in the village. He did tell them that one Hancock's colleagues a Dr. Andrew Kennedy was staying at the inn. After a pleasant lunch they toured the village, which didn't take long, after which James was keen to push on to Hancock House.

It was late afternoon when the the Investigators made their way up the lane to Hancock House, although it was only a ten minute walk west of the village, the sun was already beginning to fade behind the mountains as they reached the red brick Georgian façade with an air of quiet respectability. The house also appeared to have been shut up for the winter, dark with closed shutters. There was no response to either knocking on the door or calling out loudly. James ambled round the back and gained entry by smashing a window-pane and opening the back door to let them in - apart from Vincente who had apparently wandered back to the Inn.

The interior of the house was dark and empty. The Investigators searched the ground floor finding little of interest  until Matthew went upstairs finding evidence of a struggle and that shots had been discharged! He called the others to come see when sudden he was attacked by a ghostly figure, semi-transparent, with open wounds dripping spectral blood. The legs are not visible; the whole lower half of it's body trailed off into a thin wisp of vapour. 

Though badly shaken, and strangely cold as the ghostly figure reached for him with clawing hands, Matthew managed to present his cross - to no apparent effect. Shaken, and with no clue of how to deal with such a ghastly apparition, the Investigators decided to flee the scene!

Murder Most Foul

Somewhat shaken by the events at Hancock House, the Investigators decided that a relaxing Sunday was called for. After attending mass in the local church, Matthew decided exercise was the order of the day and headed off a hike to Loch Mullardoch. Dan and Virgil decided to try their hand at fishing, setting up by the river, though neither had much idea what they were doing and consequently caught nothing!  Vincente and James hung round the village taking in the sights and surreptitiously watching the locals, before heading back to the Kings Head Inn for Sunday lunch. As they ate, Dan noticed that a couple of locals, two blonde-haired men, obviously related, seemed to be in deep discussion with Fergus and occasionally looking over at them as they ate. They were joined at the bar by a third man with an English accent and then, shortly thereafter, departed.

Dr. KennedyAfter dinner, that evening,  James finally managed to catch up with Dr Kennedy who gave him a little background on the dig which he discovered was located on the shores of Loch Mullardoch on Ian MacDonald's farm. He told them that a friend of Henry's a retired doctor and renowned folklorist called McPharlan, had discovered the partial translation of an old document, done by a local clergyman that gave hints to the possible location of a lost Temple of Aesthog. On the basis of that, he and Chisholm had stared the dig and Kennedy had joined as a consultant. They found traces of Pictish inhabitants at the site, but found nothing definite until a few days before their disappearances. That day they unearthed two human skeletons with Roman weapons and bits of Roman armour. They also discovered skeletons of a large reptile with which they were totally unfamiliar. That night however, they saw a huge creature like a slimy kraken near the shore of the loch. Kennedy’s friends were troubled enough by this vision that Hancock sent a letter to his nephew in the United States, and suspended work at the site. That same night he un-crated his  two elephant  guns.Hancock had offered one to Kennedy, who chose instead to move into the village. A few days later Hancock and Chisholm disappeared - apparently to return to Africa. Kennedy was in the process of finishing up documenting what he could before returning to Edinburgh in the morning.

Early Monday morning, at James insistence they returned to Hancock House to further their investigations. There was no sign of the ghostly figure, however all noted the curious coldness in the upper hallway. Having thoroughly searched the bedrooms they headed down to the basement. The found several rooms there including what had obviously been Hancock's study. This room looked like a tornado hit it. The desk was smashed and the floor littered with books,papers, ledgers, pens, clippings, and stationery. A built-in wall safe looked like it had been blown open by explosives and was empty. Nothing left in the room was of value for anything but tinder for a fire.

In the Trophy Room next door, containing mainly African species,  however, Virgil spotted a secret door. More a cabinet than a room, a small table nestled in the tiny space. On the table rested an iron box. The strong-box had two locksConstable MacNeil built into it, and looked very secure.

The last room of interest they found was a large Workroom. Two large tables contain artefacts from Henry Hancock’s digs. James identified the items as all conventional Pictish or Roman military items. A third table holds several partial skeletons. Dan commented that one skeleton’s arms and neck as being unusually elongated, with a malformed head A work bench with various tools and a stool completed the furnishings.

The Investigators decided to search the upper levels once again to see if they could find a key for the strongbox, this time searching for other hidden rooms or spaces behind walls or under floorboards. Their efforts were rewarded when Dan eventually spotted an ill-fitted panel in the upper hallway. Using a chisel retrieved from the Workroom below the Investigators were able to remove the panel. Behind was a crawl space into which Henry Hancock’s mangled body had been dumped. Dan advised that Hancock has been dead for several days now, tortured to death with many wounds.

This presented the Investigators with a quandary, but eventually, after securing the lock-box in the boot of their hire-car they reported their gruesome find to the authorities in the form of Constable Sandy MacNeil. MacNeil, after being presented their bona-fides in the nature of their letter of introduction from Jacob Hancock, accompanied them back to Hancock House (James ensuring their was sufficient daylight left), where after viewing the body advised he would call it in to the Station in Inverness. A murder he observed was a bit out of his league, and he was already fully occupied with the search for a missing baby from the village. After making his call, he asked the Investigators not to leave Cannich without informing him as Inspector McKeon from Inverness, who would be arriving in the morning, wanted to speak to them.

The Dig Site

Early next morning a small army of policemen arrived from Inverness and began swarming over the Hancock House. By sheer coincident Inspector Sebastian Lumley arrived in the village in pursuit of the missing criminal Belphegor. The local constabulary somewhat overwhelmed by only their second murder in 20 years gratefully accepted the assistance the Scotland Yard man in their investigations. The Investigators were all interviewed by the police, but thankfully managed to get their stories more or less straight and, after their passport details were taken, were once again asked to not leave the area without informing the authorities.

That took  up most on Monday, so on Tuesday Virgil took the car and headed up to Inverness in search of a locksmith, discovering that the mysterious lock-box contained a portion of what was obviously a large solid gold disk inscribed with curious engravings and mysterious glyphs that somehow made one strangely nauseous when studying them.

Dr. MacPharlanDan decided to visit Dr MacParlan, the renowned local folklorist and was regaled with tales of druids, serpent-headed men, great beasts and the efforts of Sir Gawaine and the Knights of the Round Table in suppressing the evil serpent-cult after the Roman expedition had failed.

Matthew headed out on his by now accustomed walk up to Loch Mullardoch, this time visiting the McDonald farm and securing permission from the landowner to visit the dig-site. The entire area sported partially excavated rubble. There was also a camp site near the waters of the loch with two tents. Matthew managed to search one of the tents finding one of the mysterious "star stones" before the police in the person of Inspector Lumley arrived.

Inspector Lumley seemed somewhat suspicious that Matthew was poking around the dig site, but eventually accepted his explanation of a combination of over-eager American tourist and quasi-representative of the Hancock family. Sebastian continued his investigation of the tents, finding a hand-written note under the bed that appeared to be a transcription of a couple of sections from a book called called "Nameless Cults". Matthew meanwhile wandered round the did site finding some more bones buried in rubble and also, after being joined by Dan, exploring several of the partially excavated buildings  two of which he believed to be temples with the remains of what appeared to be the remains of a  large sphinx-like statue with a blank oval for a face, and the other with partially surviving carvings on the walls of some amorphous shape which appeared to be hovering over a planet or moon, which Matthew, from his researches, recognised as a stylized representation of Azathoth.

Returning to the village after lunch Matthew and Dan visited Dr MacParlan again this time pushing him more on the failed Roman mission rather than the old doctor's favourite tales of Sir Gawaine's later successful expedition, eventually managing to tease much more information out of the old man. Matthew surmised that the Temple of Aesthog that MacPharlan mentioned was most likely a bastardisation of Azathoth. Heading back to the inn they were warned off digging further  by a strange voice from the shadows.

Sebastian, after a picnic lunch in his car, spent the afternoon chasing up any other strange events in the village discovering the snatching of the MacRae baby - apparently by gypsies.He attempted to interview the MacRaes but found the husband strangely subdued and the wife somewhat hysterical ranting on about "that foreign woman" and her "witches".

That evening back at the inn after dinner,  Vincente and Sebastian sat in the common room over a few whiskeys while Virgil showed the others what had been in the lock-box - Dan recognised it as being part of the sketch  of the Egyptian looking disk the had found being used as a bookmark  in the Back to the Future building in New York.

Strange Events at the Dig Site

On Wednesday Sebastian and Vincente stayed back in the village to interview the mysterious Miss Chantraine who, they discovered, was staying with a local gentleman farmer called Ian MacLennan. Sebastian did not get much out of the young foreign woman, other than a sense of dissatisfaction with her story and on returning to the Police Office, called Scotland Yard to see what they could find out about her. The rest of the Investigators decided to head back to the dig-site to continue there.

Servitor of the Outer GodsAs they approached the dig site they though Dan spotted someone standing near the old stone circle on the bluff that overlooked the site, but when Matthew went up to investigate he saw no one, but did spot a cottage a couple of miles away nestling at the foot of the mountains.

Little was found at the dig-site - other than that someone unqualified had been digging there, much to James's disgust. Whoever it was had obviously frantically searching for something and unconcerned about any damage done to the site. Digging had to be curtailed after lunch as the weather took a distinct turn for the worse. Up near the stone circle while her had observerd proceedings, Matthew decided to head to the MacDonald farmhouse to take refuge from the rain. Dan decided to trudge back to the inn getting thoroughly soaked in the process, before joining Sebastian and Vincente in a whisky by the fireside.

Virgil and James decided to remain in the tents to proect the dig-site, maintained a watch to ensure no unwelcome visitors. Around midnight, as the weather finally improved, James heard a strange piping sound coming from the direction of th stone circle. Intrigued at first, then finding himself strangely drawn, he moved towards the sound. Virgil followed along at a distance. When James entered the circle, he was attacked by the piper, a strange amorphous being. The shock of the blow fortunately knocked him out of his stupor and, quite sensibly, he fled down the hillside in terror. Virgil equally sensibly turned to follow.

Next morning, when they others arrived, they recommenced their explorations of the site.To their horror they found a body under a pile of rubble. Not ancient bones this time, but recently a recently deceased. A call was put in to Inverness and in short order the site was full of policemen. The remains, later identified as David Chisholm, were removed to the morgue in Inverness later that afternoon.

Once the police left the dig-site, the Investigators resolved to guard the site again that night. This time all of them remained, crowding into the two tents. Their rest was disturbed by an attack by a strange winged creature - but fortunately Sebastian was able to drive it off with his revolver before too much damage was done!

The Hunting Horror

Attempts to do more excavations back at the dig-site on Friday were soon thwarted as Sebastian declared the sire off-limits until the police completed their investigations. While Sebastian and the Inverness force scoured the site, the rest of the Investigators headed to the Inn for lunch then decided to check out the McBain house.

This proved an equally frustrating experience as old McBain was extremely surly and uncooperative. After a more-or-less wasted day they all returned to Inn for dinner. As they were finishing up their meal, Sebastian returned to advise the police had found nothing and they were free to continue at the dig-site.

James immediately leaped to his feat and grabbing his backpack of tools, headed out. In the car park he discovered that all four tyres on the hire-car had bee slashed by someone! UndeterredHunting Horror he strode out purposefully into the early evening, somewhat reluctantly accompanied by Matthew and Vincente. After the other had left Sebastian offered to give Virgil and Dan a lift to the site once he had finished dinner. By the time Sebastian had finished dessert and headed out with Dan and Virgin in the car, James and the others had nearly reached the loch.

The sun was near setting when a huge winged serpentine figure swept down. Matthew and Vincente froze on the spot, but James dashed for cover behind a dry stone wall. This only served to draw the beast's attention which swept down jaws crunching into the unfortunate archaeologist's shoulder and knocking him to the ground. The beast alighted and began wrapping its sinuous tail around him.Fortunately Sebastian and the others happened on the scene and between them they were able to drive the beast off, mainly due to Matthew imperilling his soul with the use of a shrivelling spell, before James was carried off to whatever gruesome fate had awaited him. Dan patched up James's mangled shoulder as best he could and they made their way to the tents at the dig site.

Next day James, nursing his bad arm, supervised things while Dan and Virgil did most of the digging. They completed the excavations at the temple and the adjacent storehouse finally finding another piece of the gold disk under the crushed body of a centurion, after which they all returned to the Inn.

Saturday, after breakfast the finally decided it was time to beard McBain in his den, much to Vigil's delight as he had been chomping at the bit to confront McBain - they only one the knew was connected directly to The Order since they had arrived. Arriving at the cottage Sebastian strode up to the door and announced himself as an officer of the law when greeted surlily by McBain from inside. As he did a second voice, this one with a cockney accent called out "you are not taking me, copper!" and a shot was fired through the window at him.

In the shoot-out that ensued both McBain and the other man - whom Sebastian later identified as Belphegor - were slain. Dan was badly wounded by a bhyakee summoned to aid the cultists.

The Serpent Caves

While Sebastian headed off to report what had happened to the authorities, the other Investigators commenced searching the McBain cottage. They found a small stack of occult books that Matthew appropriated and a letter from which they learned that the mysterious, and now deceased,  that Belphegor had actually been a member of The Order. James also discovered a hidden passageway that led deep inside the mountain.

Serpent LeaderGather up what light sources and weapons they could - mainly from the meagre kitchen supplies. The Investigators braved the dark tunnel almost immediately to come under attack by death-ray wielding serpent people.  As they fought their way through the warren of strangely unnatural looking tunnels, more and more of the investigators were suffering wounds, either from from glancing hits from death-rays or bites when the combats descended to melee range.

Vincente bludgeoned several serpent folk to death while Matthew and Virgil shot several more before they an out of ammo. James managed to acquire one of the deadly death rays but found it extremely difficult to use as it's alien grip was not designed for human hands.

Eventually the Investigators reached the remains of an underground temple dedicated to some kind of serpent god where, in a climactic battle with the remaining serpent folk and their robed leader, James was driven mad by a mindblast spell and Vincente was almost killed when he took the full force of a death-ray. Fortunately Daniel was nearby and was able to restart his heart with cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

They barely had time to search the temple, finding the last piece of the disk and most fortuitously the McRae baby! Who was presumably being saved for some awful sacrifice at the dark of the moon - due that very night Matthew observed. Just as they located the baby, the ground shook with an awful thunder as a great worm-like beast erupted from the ground and attacked.

Fortunately the Investigators managed to elude the beast in the twisting passages . Then, battered bruised and gasping for breath, out onto the slopes of the mountain. Suddenly with an enormous ripping of the ground the great worm erupted from the hillside burying the cottage with rubble - fortunately it was a bright sunny afternoon and the searing light drove the great beast back into the darkness from which it came, the mountainside heaving and convulsing as it burrowed back into the depths.

Returning to the village they found the whole place in an uproar at the "earthquake" that had struck the valley. The villager's fear was tempered by the joy at the return of the missing child and the Investigators were hailed as heroes.