The Pyramids of Hertfordshire, episode 1

Cur­ruth­ers meets a detect­ive; Marsh trips over a corpse.


11th March 2010. 

Dramatis Personae


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.


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.