Music: Majestic Nature by Craig Stuart Garfinkle
Artwork by Steve English
Episode 1 – Prologue
Yorkshire is a magical place. But that said, it’s not always good magic – although usually, it is. However, very occasionally, it’s downright nasty! More enchantment and entrapment than puppy dogs and ponies!
Take for example a little piece of North Yorkshire, probably somewhere in the North York Moors, but more hidden than elsewhere. And when I say hidden, what I really mean is locked away – isolated.
This area is so enchanted that the people inside, the ones who were there when it got locked away and isolated – aren’t able to leave. In fact, they can’t even remember why they were isolated – or anything from before that isolation.
When they do try and leave, when they go to the invisible boundary between this place and the rest of the world, instead of leaving – they find themselves coming back into some other part of their locked away land. (Laugh) Interestingly, when they try and go – and regardless of where they leave from, they always come back to the same fixed point – which can actually be quiet helpful depending on where that point is. I mean, for some people it can be a quick way home. All they need to do is walk to the nearest boundary, and no matter where that boundary is, they end up back in their village or even their own homes! But for others, it can be a little awkward. Pity the poor soul who accidentally leaves only to find themselves entering a busy pig-pen!
Cruelly, visitors from outside, people who weren’t inside when the isolation happened, come and go at will. But, because of the enchantment, or whatever it is – once those visitors leave, they don’t remember details. All they know is that they went somewhere and came back again – and have no desire to remember anything else.
Inside this locked away and enchanted part of Yorkshire there’s a Manor and three villages. No-one can remember the original names of the villages, as that seems to have been lost when the enchantment arrived. So, for now, they’re known by what happens to the villages and the villagers at the stroke of midnight on a full moon. (P) In all honesty, it starts getting really bad on the day that the full moon’s going to happen and tends to last until the morning after. It’s just hit’s it peak (or trough depending on how you look at it) at midnight on the night of full moon.
OK, so the first village is known as Rott. This is because the people (and the village itself) literally rot to pretty much nothing on the night of the full moon. That said, by sunrise, the next morning, the village and the villagers are kind of back to normal. So, it doesn’t last. Although it can make for some fascinating discussions and experiences around the night of full moon!
The next village is called Grott – because those villagers turn into a slimy, grotty mucus-like substance.
And the third village is called Snott. Not because they turn into a mucus-like substance – they don’t. Instead, they shrink, and with that shrinkage tends to come an attitude – so pretty quickly they got known as ‘Little Snotts’ – and the name ‘Snott’ stuck.
The Manor – or Manor Rott, Grott & Snott – to give it its present title. Is lived in by the Baron.
You may as well go on a hunt for snails teeth than look for someone who appears more evil, nasty and wicked than the Baron. Some think they can even see the evil coming off him in a vapour! But just one look at him and you KNOW he’s the personification of wickedness.
Somehow, there’re still servants working at the Manor, but nowadays there’re only 2 – which is suspicious! I mean, it’s quite a large Manor, so where did all the other servants go? How’s all the work done? And, why did these 2 stay?
Of those remaining servants, the oldest is the butler and known as Thornton. He is extraordinarily deaf (when it suits him) and not known for doing … well … anything really. In fact, as far as I can tell, he avoids work with a passion.
The other remaining servant is the housekeeper Roseberry, and she – is – how should I say this … bossy. (PAUSE- UNCOMFORTABLE) Oh, erm, if you see her, don’t tell her I said that! – Anyway, as far as I can tell, Roseberry seems to actually run the place. Although how she and Thornton cope with the Baron and his … companion … I’ll never know!
Because the worst ‘thing’ – of all those in the Manor is the Baron’s closest hench … creature – known by all as, Horatio Fleming McNaughtie – the Border Terror! He is – most of the time, just a dog, a scruffy, unkempt border terrier with a serious attitude that puts the Snott’s to shame. No-one except those who live in the Manor trusts him an inch. He is a genuinely evil little… thing, probably even worse than the Baron. (P) There’re secrets between those two that no doubt will one day lead to carnage. Mark my words!
Quite how those two got together is another story. Still, however it happened, everyone in the whole of Rott, Grott & Snott are sure that whatever caused them to be isolated from the rest of the world was the fault of these two. Just to look at them and you know they’re the cause of every bad thing that happens in the whole of Rott, Grott & Snott.
Of course, the Manor itself has suffered as much as anyone or anything. It was probably a beautiful Tudor mansion at some point. No doubt it was a joy to look at, and generations of families spent their time in the gardens, rooms and halls enjoying charmed lives as they drank in the beauty all around. But not now. Now, the place oozes menace, looking more like a creepy little castle, complete with turrets – turrets that seem to move. In fact, not only do the turrets move, but the whole of the outside of the Manor seems alive with gargoyles. And, being Rott, Grott & Snott, these gargoyles never seem to stay put – turning up all over the place – on the roof, turrets and walls.
Not surprisingly, the Manor gets very few visitors. It does have a driveway that leads to the outside world, but the boundary sits right at the gate. Occasionally, visitors come through the gate only to return again to the ordinary world quickly, promptly forgetting all about their visit.
Between the Manor and the villages, there are no roads. Instead, there lie thick forests, with a few paths hacked through which the Baron and his evil mutt use to get around. While the villagers could take the pathways, the risk of running into the Baron is enough to keep them little used except for between the villages.
One of the problems with the forgetting that came with the enchantment is that the truth isn’t really known it’s just guessed at. People come up with stories, and each time the story’s retold, it grows and gains some level of validity until it’s taken as fact. So it was in Rott, Grott and Snott – everyone thought they knew the truth, but I suspect the reality was far more complicated.
Take the Manor, for example, it must have been in existence for hundreds of years, long before this isolation. And, there are things – or … or … not so much things as … I don’t know … feelings, impressions, that tell you forces have been at work for a very long time. You get it from some of the pictures on the wall. Or, to feel it even more strongly, go to the attic or the cellar, it’s almost as if you could open your mouth and eat it. Then, of course, you realise that while you’re there looking into it and investigating it, it’s looking into you and investigating you, and you’re breathing … whatever it is – breathing in the darkness that exudes from that darkly ‘enchanted’ place.
Well, with that introduction, I guess I ought to get on and start to tell you the whole story. The story of Horatio Fleming McNaughtie – the Border Terror; the story of the Baron, and of the Manor, of the isolation and of heroes no one expected and most, never even knew about. And of course, of the strange events that happened in Rott, Grott & Snott.