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A Shifting Reef
June 24th, 1892 — Dockside

He had begged for this opportunity, told no one in the office that he was doing it, but had instead wrote to the ministry volunteering his services to photograph the mission, document it for the benefit of journalistic integrity.  His position in the Prophet was so minor that they were satisified that he was taking personal leave - no one would question it when he came back with all of the stories in the world  -the exclusive story of the beast between the lake.  Under his own byline! Wouldn't that be exciting. 

He stood on the docks, the camera over one shoulder, a satchel hung width ways over his body with the notebooks quills and ink that would be used to document the adventure - not only in the search for the creature but also on this magical and unprecedented vessel.  A boat capable of going underwater! Muggles had something like it, but this was more than that.  Ewart Fraser and the charms committee had outdone themselves! This was going to be the experience of a lifetime - and to be on the front lines of the final confrontation between the ministry and this monster was going to be a real treat.

'Are we casting off?' Linus asked with all the excitement of an enthusiastic puppy, as something seemed to be happening on deck. 

@Conall MacKay  @Walter Staghart - open to those interested in the Black Lake Monster Plot
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   Caroline Weasley
It has taken far longer than he thought for the enchanted boat to be ready for the expedition beneath the Black Lake to find the monster. Walter had been ready for it for quite some time, he just hoped he didn't get caught up on an important assignment and be be forced to withdraw from this mission. As it was, no such case came up and he was able to remain part of the taskforce.

He arrived at the dock early, never one to be late for anything if he could help it and saw he wasn't the first to arrive. It didn't take any leaps of reasoning to guess it was a reporter sent by the Prophet to document the excursion. Or at the very least a photographer from the Ministry or the paper to do the same. In other words, a non-combatant and one he hoped would stay out of the way should the beast prove hostile.

"Once all who are to join us have arrived, we'll cast off." Walter responded. He was certain there will be more to arrive before they could set off. He had come prepared for battle, had a spare wand tucked away and a satchel which contained a few Auror devices to detect for dark magic just in case the creature was some kind of dark wizard's mad experiment. A few enchanted rocks he could use to drive the beast off with bright flashes and concussive force were also in the satchel. The rocks could be thrown or sent flying with magic before going off. He doubted it would do any damage to the monster by may be enough to scare it off should it become hostile and they couldn't get it under control before it threatened lives.

"Who may you be, Mr.?" Walter inquired politely. He wasn't familiar with every reporter or photographer at the Ministry or among the various publications which existed in the Wizarding World. He might know the name if not the face but he'll have to hear it first.

This was one of the stranger research trips he had been on – more for the means of transport than anything else. But if there was some non-native species hidden in the depths of this lake and (supposedly) attacking fishing boats and whatnot, Conall was confident he would find it.

He was less confident in – whoever the hell that was. “I didn’t know the Prophet was sending someone,” Conall said gruffly, narrowing his eyes in general accusation. All the Ministry escorts he could put up with (begrudgingly), but no one had warned him there would be press.

If this lad was even out of school, that was. Conall frowned at him again and then glanced at Staghart – the auror – with a look to say well, I’m not babysitting him. If this was creature territory, Staghart’s skills wouldn’t be needed, so – until then, he could handle the kid. Probably.

Pablo had been quite intrigued by the prospect of some odd creature being quite close to home, so to speak. Not that he lived in Hogsmeade but he was around often enough. The Black Lake was nothing compared to the open sea so he wasn't too worried about anything too terrible happening. He recognized Conall MacKay easily enough but the others were relatively new faces for him. The current youngest among him made him think of a crup with its forked tail wagging. Pablo could hardly blame him. After all, this was quite exciting. "Hello all, who else are we waiting on?" He asked the others after having greeted one of the ships sailors that he was familiar with.

'Linus Meeks, I Report for the Prophet' he enthused 'Although the ministry I think just has me just here to take pictures of whatever you find' he admitted and gestured to his camera. Linus hadn't made it to a cabin yet and his imagination flitted between nicely appointed private rooms and the entire crew sleeping in one open planned hold in hammocks like the drawings he had seen of pirates from a 100 years ago. He wasn't sure which he was hoping for. The bulky tripod, photographical supplies and several camera's he was lugging alongside his clothing made him wish for the former.

Others joined them! This was exciting! He recognized the others from various coverage in the prophet, not that he expected them to recognise him.

'That sounds like us casting off now' he remarked as there was a low creaking and rumbling that sounded like casting off. There was a crack like thunder and a blue green sheen crept up the sides of the ship, covering the windows and portholes, he dashed out of the cabin door to see the blue green sheen continuing skywards, forming a dome over the already trimmed sails. There was shouting from the dockside, and Linus could see the tack lines magically withdrawing and folks on the dock below waving them off.

'We're enclosed now!' he indicated skywards to the others, there was a shout from the wheel house and the prow began to sink below the waters edge, but instead of spilling over the scuppers and onto the deck the water was repelled backwards, pushed back by some invisible force as the ship and it's sometime crew began to sink below the waves.

The fact he was a reporter was pretty obvious but was good to know the excited younger man's name. He didn't recall the name but Walter didn't tend to pay attention to any credit given to photos in the Daily Prophet or the authors of articles unless it related to a case or something about it caught his attention.

"I suggestion you keep out of the way for now." Wilhelm advised. Personally he preferred the reporter remained on the dock and take pictures of the ship leaving him behind.

When the other showed up, Walter recognized them from the information he received about the make up of the key personnel involved in this monster hunt. He didn't know them personally however but he didn't require it to do his job.

"I think that's the last of those assigned on this expedition," Walter responded then headed onboard the ship. Not long after the sailors cast off the mooring lines and took down the unneeded sails and masts, the magical enchantments designed to allow the ship to go underwater without flooding activated.

He glanced over at the Reporter once more, seeing he still had all his equipment with him, some of which will likely just get in the way. "I suggest you stow what you don't need quickly, if things get rough I'm sure you wouldn't want anything damaged tumbling across the deck."

Walter couldn't care less about the reporter's equipment but he didn't want to have to worry about something heavy sliding across the deck and tripping him up at a crucial moment. Sending the man below decks to get rid of his equipment would also give him a break from the over excited energy emanated from Mr. Meeks.


Linus stood awestruck as the light of the sun above slowly faded as the ship descended further and further beneath the black lake. The lights on the deck turned on, illuminating the deck well enough and casting some light out into the dark water beyond.

Beyond the radius of the ships lights, Linus could just make out the shadow of something in the water. Fish and the occasional larger shape that he guess might be the Mers that lived in the lake, or their GRindylow companions. One of the sailors appeared at his shoulder and took the equipment from him, telling him he would place it in his cabin. Linus kep on camera with him.

'What do you think this thing is?' he asked the others who he assumed where the 'experts' on this voyage. 'What could possibly be big enough to eat a row boat?' he pressed, the horror afficiando in him, desperate for information and the gory details.

The surface was getting further and further away, the light fading from a sunset to the dead of night as the ship kept on it's plunging downward journal.

For a moment, all Conall could concentrate on was the sensation of the lake’s surface closing overhead – and yet nothing crashing into their protective bubble of air on deck. As they descended, however, he shook himself out of the awe in order to focus: the sooner they discovered what they were dealing with, the better.

He was a little too enthralled with surveying the lake-beneath-the-surface now to have much room for his earlier annoyance about the team aboard. So it was without much rancour that Conall glanced at the weedy reporter with them. “Nothing native to the lake, I’d wager,” Conall informed him: nothing previously discovered, anyway. It was not in the squid’s habits. “Unless the grindylows have unionised.” That was a joke, mostly – grindylows, even in great numbers, were not intelligent enough to have disposed of all evidence of the fishermen after an attack.

“I’ve never seen a hinkypunk big enough, or living by a lake this deep – and there’s no traces of kelpies here.” A herd of kelpies would have been his best guess for the disappearing people, otherwise; he raised an eyebrow at Medina, in case the other magizoologist had a serious working theory yet. “Here, I’m going to signal the mer, see if they can point us the right way,” he declared, shooting out a trail of light from his wand to try and attract one of the lurking selkies’ attention. It passed through the dome without breaking it, and snaked towards a curious mer in the shadows nearby.


Linus' face was rapt with excitement as the experienced mazizoologist explained his theory about what was in the lake - nothing native! That meant something incredibly exciting was in the like and if he surived this then he might just have the story of a lifetime! He turned to face the older man and snapped a candid photo of him in contemplation of their surroundings. He was sure these pictures would be powerful - espcially the ones that were unposed and captured the 'magic' of their situation - both the real and the metaphorical magic.

Linus watched transfixed as the mers were summoned by the light to investigat the ship. They were not entirely pleased by the wizards appearance. Linus didn't speak Mer but it was clear from the angry chattering that they were expressing strong opinions about the presence of the wizarding vessel.

A particularly large Mer male, who Linus assumed was a chief or someone significant pressed his flat, almost reptilian nose to the barrier, but didn't go as far as pressing himself through it. 'What are you doing here Tresspasser wizard!' he hissed in mermish. 'This place is not for you!, her shook his spear angrily

He heard the click of the camera too late, and bit back a grumble – hadn’t he put the Auror on babysitting duty? – but there wasn’t time to give the lad more than a warning glare before the mer had approached.

Eager to help, as usual. Keeping his sardonic snort to himself, Conall instead inclined his head in deference and apology; they were trespassing and he knew it. Just passing through,” he declared in broken Mermish, the words sounding guttural and screeching to him, not-quite-in-the-water as they were. Looking for a – thing with teeth? Something angry. Men are missing. Another trespasser here? You know which way?” Well, it was the gist of it, Conall supposed, grimacing wryly. He paused to let anyone else in the party add what they would (– if they could –), sincerely hoping the mer chief had understood the request for help in it, anyway, or considered that, if they found the thing that was causing destruction, that this ship would try to get it and everyone else out of the mers’ hair. And leave them in peace again, the way they preferred it.

It was worth a try. Even a hint, a scowl in a certain direction, wouldn’t go amiss – otherwise they would more than likely have to plumb every murky nook and cranny down here alone.

Walter was no expert on aqualic life but he had did research after he had been assigned to this expedition. Unfortunately nothing he found currently known to live in the Black Lake was large enough, besides the giant squid. Thus he remained silent, leaving it up to the Magiczoologist to answer the reporter's question.

Instead he focused on the vastness of the Black Lake being revealed before them as they sank deeper underwater. It wasn't easy to see far due to the natual murkiness of the water. He could see plenty of fish swimming about amoung the weeds or forming large schools which darted off into the darkness as soon as they drew close. A few lingered, curious about the strange thing approaching. As entertaining as it was to watch the natural aquatic life around them, Walkter knew none were the object of their search.

When a merman approached and pressed his face against the barrier, Walter turned his attention to him instead. Merfolk could capsize a boat and take the crew if they so desired but to his knowledge the Merfolk of the Black Lake tolerated the presence of humans and wizards upon the lake. If there had been some point of conflict he expected the merfolk would have made it known before resorting to violence. Then again he was no expert on merfolk either.

He didn't understand Merish so couldn't understand what was being said between the Merman and Conall. Walter was good enough at observation to guess the Merman wasn't happy or was simply demanding to know why they had intruded on their realm in what likely appeared as a magical bubble boat.

"Does he know anything about the creature we are searching for?" Walter inquired after the two exchanced words. He hoped the Merman didn't turn hostile, he preferred not to get into a fight with the nonhuman.

@Linus Meeks , @Conall MacKay

The Mer chief raged at the question, set off in rage by the mention of the thing with teeth. 'Deeper!' he roared, or at least as close to a roar as one could do underwater, 'The beast below destroys our village with it's tail!' He used the spear as an extension of his arm and indicated a general direction, that was further downwards. 'We try to kill it, but the spears do not harm it.' The mer made a hissing growl in rage, which the other mers echoed, a pained war cry.

'It does not belong here! this is wizard fault' he continued, 'Wizards make it right, or Mers will destroy all wizard evil in the lake' he stared down the wizards on the deck, the threat plain to all. 'This is the wizards only chance' the others mers began to hoot and beat their shields, the action didn't create a sound but the disturbance of the water by the action, made the water around them look like it was boiling.

Linus gulped. This was getting very serious.

The captain looked the auror and expert on the deck, seeking confirmation of the direction of travel.

'Will the Mers really try to kill us if we fail?' Linus bit his lip.

Conall had a crabby temper of his own when he wanted to, so he was not much affected by the colourful tone of the merman’s outburst. His mind was churning steadily through the details they’d been given, though, still perplexed about what could be doing so much sustained damage and yet be invulnerable to the merpeople’s attacks. Something with a thick, strong hide, maybe.

Conall gave the mer chief a curt nod to express that he’d understood, and once the merman had glowered at him some more as he drifted back to his tribe, he turned back to the crew and their questions.

“The mers have far bigger problems than us,” Conall said dryly, at Meeks’ worries. No sense in concerning themselves with that just yet – the mers liked to bandy about threats as if they owned the lake, anyway – and for the moment he was still hopeful that this underwater search would do them all a favour. He hadn’t decided yet what was precisely going to happen when they found the "evil" creature, but Conall had always been a creature of pragmatism. First things first.

He took a moment to recount the mer’s answer in the most succinct translation he could manage, so they were all equipped with the same information going forward; and then, for the captain’s benefit, pointed in the same direction the mer chief had. Down. “And we have bigger problems than them. First, we’ve got to get down there.” Right in the very depths, he suspected. What fun.

Once the conversation between Mackay and the Merfolk Chief, Walter was glad Mackay filled them in on what the conversation had been about. It was clear the monster, whatever it was, had been attacking the merfolk as well as the fishing vessel, maybe more so given how much easier for a water creature to attack other water creatures.

"We best get to the bottom of these attacks not just to help the Merfolk but to ensure all wizards who live near and use the Black Lake don't become victims as well." Walter wasn't all that concerned about the merfolk laying blame on wizards, they could be dealt with easily enough should they fail in dealing with the monster. However he was confident they will be able to hunt down and eventually kill the monster causing such trouble under the dark waters.

He turned towards the nervous reporter, "We're safe from the Merfolk Chief for now," Walter assured him.

Once the captain got them moving towards the deepest area of the Black Lake, Walter moved to stand beside MacKay. "Did you get any description of this monster from the Merman? Or have any personal idea what we're likely going to face?"

Linus nodded ruefully biting the inside of his cheek - wishing he believed the others when they told him that it was going to be okay, that they could handle the merfolk.

The ship kept it's downward plummet, the angle of descent becoming steeper as the ship resumed it's perilous downward plummet. Linus shuddered, the darkness was beginning to feel oppressive and there was a chill as they sank further and the water around them became bitterly cold. Linus dreaded to think what the icy water would do to you if the shield charm was to fail. Even with one deep breath he doubted they could make the surface, and that presumed the bitter cold didn't cause hyperthermia almost instantly. What was it - 2 minutes in cold water?

Linus peered out into the darkness, willing his eyes to see further, cursing his spectacles. A glimmer of something that might have been scales caught shuddered at the periphery of his vision. 'There!' he called out, pointng into the darkness, 'There is something out there? A second shuddering flash of silvery blue was ahead of them now 'Now it's over there' he cried out, his voice gone from concerned to full blown panic in an instant. 'Straight ahead now' he pointed dead ahead of them.

Before he could finish, a giant silver grey maw seemed to appear out of the darkness, open wide, a row of vicious black teeth preparing to swallow them whole.

Conall liked to think himself a man not easily disconcerted – he had kept his wits about him in many a situation – but the chill of the darkness and the youth’s panicked yelps about whatever was out there was prickling the back of his neck in a way he didn’t much like.

Conall gritted his teeth, readied his wand without knowing what the hell he’d cast with it, tried to stay calm.

“I hate to tell you,” Conall muttered to Staghart in belated answer to his question, as the ship was on the verge of being swallowed up, a swell of water dragging them in, “but I don’t know what the fuck that is.” It was too late to escape it, he thought – maybe all they could do was seek out shelter – and the only saving grace to their vessel being swallowed was that he wasn’t sure, anymore, if it was a creature at all.

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