The classic team role-playing game of conspiracy and strangeness
Daeth Y Nos Yn Gylfym
From: C. M. Harris.
To: Operatives: Nathan B. Garston, Lady Judith Larch, Donovan McCabe, Heather Montrose, Guy Curry, Dexter Owara.
Subject: Disappearances in Bala, North Wales.
The following article recently appeared in the Daily Telegraph.
No Nessie but She's Still a Monster
The old legend of the monster of Lake Bala has risen up from the depths this last week. The creature, affectionately known as Teggie after the Welsh name for the lake, Llyn Tegid, has lain low for centuries, only raising her head above water for the occasional snap-shot. Why she chooses this year to put in a major appearance is anyone's guess, and why her first act as a public figure should be to eat a local girl is stranger still.
Gwyneth Morgan disappeared from the home she shared with her husband last Tuesday evening. In the morning all that was left of her was an upturned boat and her hand-knitted sweater. Despite a widening search there has been nothing more. The disappearance, coupled with a village girl's account of a 'dark shape swimming in the lake' has led to speculation that Teggie has woken up again...
(Report by Mark Richardson, on location at Bala)
The same paper carried another report, much smaller, a few pages on.
American Vanishes from Tourist Spot
North Wales police are mounting a search for Anthony Barnard, 32, an American tourist who disappeared two days ago. Mr Barnard was believed to be holidaying in Bala. Anyone with news of him is asked to contact the police immediately.
And the next day, another report from Mark Richardson
Funny Goings on are the Norm Here
Come to North Wales, cry the posters. Where else can you have the same combination of fine scenery, cool lakes, friendly locals and, of course, sheep. That and more, apparently. How about a green mist hovering over Lake Bala at seven o'clock in the morning? Or half a dozen rowing boats disappearing without trace. Or, if that's not enough there's an arson attack at the farm and a hotel that is receiving regular deliveries of goat's blood.
The three reports, printed above, suggest that there is definitely something out of the ordinary happening at Bala. You are asked to investigate:
1) The disappearances of Gwyneth Morgan and Anthony Barnard. In particular whether the two are linked and whether they were due to natural causes or otherwise.
2) The reports of the other strange goings-on. Establish who or what is causing them.
3) The story of the monster of the lake. Find out if it has any basis in fact. Any hard evidence you can provide on this matter will be most welcome.
Destination and Cover Story:
Bala is a small town situated in north-west Wales. On the edge of the Snowdonia National Park, the combination of mountains and lakes have made it a popular holiday spot. You will be posing as a group of tourists, booked on a two week holiday which includes a 3 day scuba diving course to give you opportunity to examine the lake. Reservations have been made for you in the 'Llyn y Ddraig' hotel and the owner, Mike Gaskin, will be expecting you at 18:00hrs on the day of arrival.
Your holiday has been booked through Wales Tourism Ltd, 38 St. Johns St, Cardiff, CF1 3HR. tel. 01222 546789. This is a class 2 cover. The company does not exist but all calls to this number will verify your story. If you need to contact SITU's offices during the course of the investigation you may do so on tel/fax 0171 865 0088. This number must on no account be given to anyone outside the organisation. After using it on modern telephone systems you should enter another number to prevent use of any last number redial facility.
Travel Arrangements: Air tickets have been booked for Donovan to Manchester airport. Trains from Manchester to North Wales run every hour. Will the others please make their own way to Bala - there are regular train and coach services from Birmingham. A six-seater hire car will be waiting for you at the 'Llyn y Ddraig.'
Expenses: SITU will reimburse Operatives for all reasonable expenses incurred during the investigation. Receipts will be required.
Extra-legal activity: All Operatives should be aware that, while they may choose to operate outside the Law, they are not above it. SITU does not condone or sanction unlawful activity of any nature. Note that SITU will not act on the behalf of an Operative who is cautioned, arrested, charged, etc, in the course of an investigation. Indeed, if an Operative were to attempt to contact SITU in such a situation, s/he would find all telephone numbers unobtainable and all addresses unoccupied.
RHAN UN (PART ONE)
Donovan McCabe has already decided he hates Wales. Far too cold - and there's already a light drizzle streaking the train window grey. He watches it morosely, turning his head every now and then to scan the rest of the carriage and jumping when a child rustles a sweet packet behind him. An impressive looking man, well over six foot and leanly muscled, his black skin has a slight sheen to it as if he's only just stepped off the race track. He has already attracted the attention of several of the younger women in the carriage - and one older one who tuts to herself as her gaze lingers on the one shaved eyebrow and the carefully arranged dreadlocks. He turns and grins at her, pulling his fluorescent yellow vest up a fraction so she can see the belly-button stud through the lycra. When she gasps he grins again then turns back to the window with a sigh. Surely it can't be much further.
"Surely it can't be much further," complains Guy 'Catspaw' Curry. Beside him, Dexter Owara shrugs sympathetically. The two men met on the train coming down from the north and have passed the time drinking lukewarm lager from the buffet car and complaining about politicians, the weather and the sandwiches in between long stretches of silence.
"I'm going to get another drink," Guy announces. He stand up, rubbing his right leg, and reaches across the seat to pull a roll of notes out of the inside pocket of his leather jacket. He pauses to examine his reflection in the window's darkened glass, pushing a few strands of sandy blonde hair out of eyes that are a clear, intense blue, and starts off down the carriage, limping slightly with the motion of the train.
Dexter sighs as he watches him go and settles himself across both seats. A huge, black man, his 'Elvis' T-shirt and jeans look far too tight for comfort and his bald head is topped by a pair of mirror shades, balanced precariously. A quick glance behind him to make sure Guy isn't coming back and he stretches out, planting his Doc Martens firmly on the seat opposite. His own leather jacket is hanging beside him and he digs through the pockets producing a walkman and a couple of Elvis tapes. By the time Guy returns he is happily humming along, one foot twitching in rhythm.
Nathan Garston has decided to do the easy thing and drive to Bala. Well, it would be easy if the rain would ease up a little and if the roads didn't insist on doing an impersonation of demented, copulating snakes. He scowls to himself as he eases his grey BMW around yet another sharp bend, his heavy brows coming together until they almost touch between his dark brown eyes. He has a map spread out across his battered hold-all on the passenger's seat and he slows the car alternately glancing down and staring back at the road ahead. A little further on he passes a sign - Bala, 40 miles. He smiles grimly and crumples the map back into its cover one-handed. Should be easy enough to find the place from here, he reckons.
Heather Montrose and Lady Judith Larch have already arrived. Judith has gone for a brief stroll along the lakeside and Heather sits on a bench and scowls darkly as she watches her. The woman is a snob, she decides, one of those rich birds with too much money and time on their hands. Her clothes for example - most other people around are in jeans and boots but not Lady Judith. She's wearing a neat black skirt, a cream silk blouse and high heels of all things. And that perfume! Heather pinches the end of her nose. She can almost smell it all the way over here. She takes her glasses off and cleans a mist of rain from the lenses, her brown eyes blinking short-sightedly. Her black hair, streaked with amber, blue and red, is fast becoming limp with the constant drizzle and she stands up and begins the walk back to the hotel.
Lady Judith turns just in time to see the slight girl in army fatigues disappearing. She shakes her head almost sadly. Such a pretty girl and she has to go and spoil herself dying her hair, and wearing those awful shapeless clothes. But then a particularly interesting variety of wild mushroom catches her eye and she bends close to the ground to examine it. She has forgotten Heather within seconds.
Six o'clock in the bar of the Llyn Y Ddraig, and the room is practically empty. Soft orange lighting glances off various prints on the walls. Guy wanders over to look at them. A few cartoon dragons, a black and white drawing of mount Snowdon and dozens of pictures of lakes. A collection above the bar all feature dark blobs or various shapes and sizes floating in the water and underneath them all is written in bold type TEGGIE. It doesn't look much like anything to him, even when he turns his head to one side to study it from a different angle.
The rest of the group come in one at a time. Lady Judith perches herself on a bar stool, smoothing her skirt over her knees with both hands and smiling a little nervously. Dexter follows her, breezing in and greeting everyone loudly before settling himself on a rug by the open fireplace. When Heather and Nathan turn up they go to opposite corners of the room, Heather sitting in the shadow cast by a tall Welsh dresser and Nathan striding to the bar and calling for service. Donovan arrives last, looks around and gives Heather his best friendly grin which she ignores, pulling out a crumpled pack of cigarettes and lighting one.
Noticing Nathan's glare she shrugs apologetically. "Sorry, I am trying to give up."
"Then why not make a start now?" Nathan growls back. A slight hint of a Scottish accent softens his voice a little but Heather still flushes and turns her back on him.
"Now, there's no need..." Dexter begins. He is interrupted as the door opens.
The man who comes in is in his late forties, dark brown hair just beginning to turn grey, brown eyes creased with wrinkles at the corners. He's wearing a suit with an open-necked shirt and a pair of incongruously scarlet carpet slippers. He stops when he sees the group, his eyes widening as his gaze travels from Lady Judith's tailored outfit and tasteful pearl jewelry to Donovan's skin tight glowing lycra and back again, but he recovers himself, smiling broadly.
"Hello, welcome, croeso," he says. "Any of you speak Welsh?" When everybody shakes their heads he shrugs, unconcerned. "No? Never mind, there's still time. Only takes a lifetime to learn, so they say." His own accent is a strange halfway mix of Welsh and Birmingham. "Sorry to have kept you waiting. I'm Mike Gaskin, the owner of this place." He circles the room offering to shake hands with everyone. Donovan looks at him suspiciously before accepting, and wipes his palm on his leggings afterwards. "There are three twin rooms upstairs which are all yours," he continues. One eyebrow raises. "The ladies will be taking one, I presume? I'll get Rhia to show you up in a minute." He opens the door and yells out of it. "Rhia? Rhiannon, love, the guests are here. Move yourself." Turning back he smiles at the assembled group. "Now, you'll be wanting drinks, I take it, and dinner's laid on tonight. There are brochures and stuff in your rooms and in the corner there, but if you've got any questions ask away." He follows Guy's gaze to the photos above the bar. "Ah yes, Teggie. She's been around longer than me, I can tell you. Grand old creature, she is. Not that I've ever seen her in person, so to speak, but she's out there all right. Ah, here's Rhiannon. She'll show you where your rooms are and get you sorted out."