Monday, 15 April 2013

The mysterious death of the Duke of Rutland, 1940

While searching for mysteries that occurred during the war, I came across the death of John Manners, the ninth Duke of Rutland. The Duke's actual death isn't actually all that mysterious, but the circumstances that surround it make ideal fodder for potential plot hooks for Section D's investigators.

In April 1940, the Duke of Rutland died of pneumonia in a cramped room in the servant's quarters of his family estate, Belvoir Castle. Shortly after his death, his son had the rooms sealed for several decades with no-one allowed access. Even the castle staff were tight lipped about exactly what happened...

Prior to his death the Duke had spent ages sorting through the family archives putting them in order and cataloging everything in the library, including various archeological artifacts as well as his family histories and books. Later investigations revealed that the Duke had spent his last days actively destroying evidence of certain periods in his life and encoding others. The three obvious gaps cover some of his childhood, his time in Rome (1909) and some of his time during WW1 when he is know to have had conflicts with his family.

But... what other things did he try to hide in his final days and what did he pass on to Section D? And most importantly of all, why were his chambers sealed and his retainers so secretive? This makes me want to weave something in about the Duke becoming entangled with some mystical group in Rome, aimed at re-balancing power in favour of the Church. As WW1 breaks out and he witnesses the horrors of mass destruction, he could start to feel disillusioned with his involvement in this and he slowly turns to darker powers to try and rectify his earlier mistakes.

WW2 rolls around and things are still following a course the the Duke cannot help but feel he helped guide. When he is diagnosed with pneumonia, he turns over all his research to Section D as he does not have the strength to carry on combating the German mystics and instead starts to spend his final days purging anything suspect from the records; covering them up with more mundane concerns like family arguments.

This handover from the Duke may lead the investigators on a covert mission to Rome to try and recover some additional information about a larger plot, or reveal the location of a large archeological dig sponsored by the Vatican

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