9th March 1924

In the early hours of this morning I was awoken by the train coming to a stop. Glancing out of the window I saw we had pulled in to a station. This, I gathered, was Perth and we remained in the station until daybreak before continuing our journey.Throughout the morning we continued through the famous Highlands and glens of Scotland, they were very much as I had imagined from reading Walter Scott; the dark greens of pine-forests and the purples of the heather. Here and there were exposed areas of rock but rather then being a drab black they were swathed in colourful mosses and the like. Of course that was when I could see anything at all, on more then one occasion the train was engulfed in thick fogs that obscured the view. At noon the train pulled into the city of Inverness and we disembarked. Our first stop was the local bank from which we drew upon our wages, a generous three pounds each a day, as well as changing some of our own money. From there we asked directions to a good hotel where we booked rooms and freshened up after the journey. My room, and indeed the entire hotel, had a great old-world charm. The furnishings were all antique, the hallways decorated by large sets of antlers as well as pictures of men and women in traditional attire.

Over lunch we formed a plan of action. Mr Snydder-Scott had already popped out to the post-office to telegram our employer of our arrival. He had also brought back something that had a bearing on our case. In the post office he had found a wanted poster for a man known only as Belphegor, a murderer and kidnapper. Of course the name, or should I say alias, was familiar to us from the small report we found in the catacombs in Boston. I had assumed but Belphegor was an alias of MacBain but the wanted poster made me reconsider.

It was decided that Dr. Ewers would hire us a motorcar for the journey to Cannich. The Professors would visit the local library to see if they could find a good map of Cannich and the surrounding area. This left Mr. Snider-Scott and myself to pay a visit of Inspector Liam MacDougall who had already made some enquiries into the disappearances of Henry Hancock and Adam Chisholm.

It was easy enough to find the police station and, once Mr. Snydder-Scott had produced a letter from our employer, obtain an interview with Inspector MacDougall. MacDougall himself was a rather rotund, middle-aged man with a thin moustache and greased down hair that was parted down the centre. He outlined the enquiries that he had made to find Hancock and Chisholm. There seemed to be very few facts. The pair had been digging at Mount Mullardoch, aided by a pair of local diggers, Andrew and Jamie McQuarrie. Out of the blue it appeared they fired their two diggers and left the area apparently to return to Africa. This trip to Africa story was familiar to us from the third, fake, letter. While investigations had failed to find any record of the pair buying tickets out of Britain, Inspector MacDougall didn’t seem to think there was any sort of foul play involved.

According to the Inspector’s enquiries both men had disappeared on the same day but from Hancock’s letter we knew that Dr. Chisholm had disappeared first.

He handed over the key to Mr. Hancock’s house in Cannich saying that nothing relevant or untoward been found there. During our interview with the Inspector Mr. Snydder-Scott returned to the subject of the house several times, at the time I could not understand why.

In answer to my questions the Inspector said that there had been no mention of strangers in the area about the same time as the antiquarians had disappeared. He did admit that people occasionally went missing in the area, the countryside was pretty desolate there and some of the hilly terrain could be difficult, but again the Inspector didn’t seem to think this connected.

After obtaining the name of Cannich’s local police officer, Constable Sandy MacNeil, and the address of the McQuarrie brothers, they lived in a nearby hamlet called Liatrie, said good day to the Inspector and promised to let him know if we found any trace of the missing men.

Mr. Snydder-Scott took the opportunity, before we left, to ask about the wanted poster he had seen. The Inspector was a little surprised when this was brought up. He didn’t really know much about Belphegor other then he was a criminal from down south who had last been seen heading north towards Scotland.

Upon returning to the hotel we found Dr. Ewers already back. He had rented a motorcar for a few days. Professors Deveraux and Davies retuned a short while latter, just in time for an excellent evening meal. They had obtained a map from the library and had spent a while in conversation with the librarian Lizzie (short for “Elizabeth� I presumed) about ancient Scottish history. Prof. Davies had asked Lizzie if either of the missing men had ever booked any books out of the library and she had promised to find out by tomorrow.

It appeared that Cannich was some thirty miles away which could be anything up to a day’s drive if the roads depending on the quality of the roads. We took the opportunity to locate Mt. Mullardoch on the map, sitting at one end of Loch (or ‘Lake’) Mulladoch.

Mr. Snider-Scott and I outlined our visit to the Inspector. Mr Snydder-Scott revealed that he sensed that Inspector MacDougall had been a little evasive when he said that he didn’t have much of a look around the Hancock house. This was worrying, why would the Inspector lie to us? Had he seen something that he couldn’t explain and was too embarrassed to mention it in case we thought him mad? Perhaps someone bribed or threatened him to keep quiet about something or, worse still, could the Inspector be actively working against us?

It was decided that tomorrow Dr. Ewers and Mr. Snydder-Scott would purchase all the supplies necessary to make the Hancock House liveable, food, oil, etc., while the rest of us would do some more background research in the library. The day after it was our intention to head to Cannich.


Topics: Case of the Coven, Case of the Order of Silver Twilight |

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