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Loch of the Leviathan (23 pages)

Outside Castle Ravenscroft in Scotland, a silent observer sees two young lovers dragged into the Loch Ravenscroft by huge coiling tentacles. Days later, Dr. Adam Spektor arrives to investigate the legend of the Loch Ravenscroft Monster, accompanied by his secretary Lakota Rainflower and his cousin Anne Sara. Spektor recounts to his companions how sightings of the Monster go back centuries, and how the Castle has always had a Lord, or "Laird," Ravenscroft, though no one has ever seen any sign of any other family members.

On the grounds of the Castle, they meet the current Laird Ravenscroft, who invites them to stay at the Castle. Over dinner, the Laird discusses his family history and completely dismisses talk of the Leviathan as superstitious prattle. Later, Spektor browses the books in the Ravenscroft family library, while the Laird escorts Lakota and Anne to a swim in the Castle pool, which has its source in the Loch and is naturally heated.

Meanwhile, Spektor finds the Ravenscroft family crypt behind a secret panel. There, he finds that the crypt has been disused for many years, and a hidden portrait of a previous Laird Ravenscroft looks exactly like the current heir. As Anne and Lakota swim in the underground pool, the Leviathan emerges and grabs Anne. Lakota escapes from the water, and she and Laird Ravenscroft hurry to the library to tell Dr. Spektor what has happened. The Laird tells Spektor that he has not previously believed the Monster existed as they return to the underground pool in time to see the Leviathan emerge once more. The Laird suddenly attacks Spektor and Lakota, pushing Lakota into the pool with the monstrosity. Spektor and the Laird fight on the side of the pool, until the Laird knocks Spektor unconscious and leaves him in the pool for the Monster.

The Leviathan lifts Spektor in its tentacles and brings him close to its enormous red eye, where it begins to communicate with him telepathically. It tells Spektor how the Leviathan is the last of an ancient breed, and how it had switched minds with young Laird Ravenscroft, leaving the Laird trapped in the body of the behemoth. The beast expresses its wish that Spektor kill the human form of Laird Ravenscroft, whereby the monstrous Leviathan would also die, freeing the Laird from his torment.

Spektor confronts "Laird Ravenscroft" and the two engage in mortal combat, the Laird armed with a battleaxe and Spektor with a sword, until they near the edge of the Loch, and the Leviathan emerges and grasps the Laird in its crushing tentacles. As the Monster squeezes the life out of the human form, the minds of the two switch back, and the true Laird Ravenscroft expresses his relief at finally being free of the monster's body. As the Laird ages and dies, he also reveals that he had overcome his monstrous host body enough recently that he merely hid his victims rather than devouring them. Relieved, Spektor finds an underground cave, where Lakota, Anne, and the two young lovers await release. Spektor kisses Lakota passionately, and then opines that the real Lord Ravenscroft had been trapped in a monster's body for a century, but that he finally died like a man.

Note: Reference is made in the dialogue of the story to the legendary Loch Ness Monster, which forms part of the basis for this tale.

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