The Pyramids of Hertfordshire, episode 1

Cur­ruthers meets a detec­tive; Marsh trips over a corpse.

Played

11th March 2010. 

Dramatis Personae

Plot

Fresh from their tri­umph over the High­bury Hor­ror, the team were briefed for a new mis­sion that would take them out of Lon­don. Rooke tasked them with inves­ti­gat­ing some strange events tak­ing place in and around the vil­lage of Alder­mans­ford in Hert­ford­shire. A series of strange lights and glows had been seen above the woods to the north of the com­mu­ni­ty, usu­al­ly accom­pa­nied by low fre­quen­cy vibra­tions. Occa­sion­al­ly, when the lights were quite bright, human fig­ures were seen mov­ing through the mist between the trees.

The team were to meet to catch the noon train from Euston to Berkham­st­ed. Marsh arrived late and they only just caught the train. As the train entered rur­al Hert­ford­shire, Marsh began to claim that the whole place smelt funny.

Arriv­ing in Berkham­st­ed, they rode a car­riage to Alder­mans­ford itself, a small vil­lage built around a millpond and set under a forest­ed hill. On the way into the vil­lage, they passed Avery Manor, the res­i­dence of Sir Upton Scu­d­amore, Bt., and not­ed the pres­ence what appeared to be a half-built pyra­mid behind it. The dri­ver com­ment­ed that Sir Upton was a bit eccen­tric, but very gen­er­ous to the village.

Hav­ing scared off the local chil­dren by attempt­ing to talk to them, the invsti­ga­tors took up res­i­dence in the four rooms they had booked in the Hang­man’s Dance, the local coach­ing inn. While every­one else got set­tled in, Pren­tiss and Cur­ruthers decid­ed to vis­it the local Min­istry observ­er, Hin­ton Waldrist, who filled them in on the details of the mys­tery. The weird phe­nom­e­na con­sist­ed pri­mar­i­ly of bright blue and green glows in the night sky to the north of the Manor. Those liv­ing or walk­ing in the area had report­ed a low throb­bing noise that sound­ed like the “chant­i­ng of the sacra­ments at the church of a Sun­day morn­ing, as heard from sev­er­al hun­dred yards away”. Bright lights had been seen shin­ing out of the woods cov­er­ing the hills in the north of the estate, bro­ken by shad­owy fig­ures mov­ing about with­in them. Waldrist had a num­ber of the­o­ries as to their ori­gin, most­ly revolv­ing around ancient ruins that may have been asso­ci­at­ed with fairies.

They also learnt about the recent mur­ders of Ansty Coombe, one of the estate game­keep­ers found near the pyra­mid, Mag­gie Bur­ton, a young local woman who appeared to have died gath­er­ing flow­ers in the woods, the Rev­erend Harold Nor­ris, a vis­it­ing cler­gy­man stay­ing at the Par­son­age and found in the Manor’s orna­men­tal lake, and Coney Fur­long, a poach­er found in a ditch in the woods. All had been beat­en to death with a cou­ple of heavy blows with­in the last cou­ple of weeks. Scot­land Yard had sent a detec­tive to investigate.

Marsh and Miss Sharpe, mean­while, descend­ed to the bar where Marsh became aware of the pres­ence of Detec­tive Alton Barnes of the Yard, the man who had final­ly end­ed his crim­i­nal career. Know­ing that Barnes had want­ed to see him hang, Marsh decid­ed to try to avoid him. Cur­ruthers and Pren­tiss rejoined the group for din­ner, fill­ing them in on their dis­cov­er­ies. Cur­ruthers decid­ed to have a brief chat with Barnes, police­man to police­man but learnt noth­ing new: Barnes was inves­ti­gat­ing the mur­ders and con­sid­ered the lights to be a local fairy tale.

Lat­er that evening, the team head­ed out to see what they could find and in the hope that the lights might decide to man­i­fest. Trudg­ing up into the woods at around 10 pm, they encoun­tered a thick­en­ing fog and Marsh, attempt­ing to move qui­et­ly away from the rest of the team in case of an ambush, became sep­a­rat­ed from them. They only became aware of his loca­tion when he tripped over a corpse and screamed. Gath­er­ing around, they not­ed that the corpse looked like it had been buried in a cof­fin for sev­er­al months (being rel­a­tive­ly dry, with lit­tle sign of insects) and was wear­ing good boots and a suit, imply­ing it had had a funer­al. Once he had fin­ished bring­ing up his din­ner, Marsh mused over the pos­si­bil­i­ty of tak­ing them, but decid­ed they were a lit­tle too rotten.

The inves­ti­ga­tors looked around for drag marks and found none, but did note a sin­gle set of boot prints lead­ing up the hill from the grave­yard. Fol­low­ing them back, they found a grave that looked like it had been opened from the inside. Lady Anto­nia decid­ed to inform the verg­er, in spite of the time, that one of his graves had been robbed.

Notes

The mys­tery begins!

This was a very talky ses­sion, set­ting the scene for the lat­er inves­ti­ga­tions and (I hope) hor­rors. Alder­mans­ford is sup­posed to resem­ble one of those Miss Marple-type mur­der loca­tions and is delib­er­ate­ly set on the edge of the ‘Avengers Tri­an­gle’. The lights in the woods are inspired by those torch and aliens scenes in the X‑Files.

Marsh’s con­nec­tion with Barnes was not planned, but was one of those spur-of-the-moment ideas that just seemed to make sense. Trip­ping over the corpse was the result of yet anoth­er fum­bled roll.