Monday, July 8, 2024

The Athmore Inheritance

A couple weeks ago I ran Blades in the Dark for my Discord group. As with any one-shot, I cribbed my ideas from the last movie I had seen and the last book I had read. In this case, the movie in question was the Euro-Gothic Blood of the Vampire and the book was Phyllis A. Whitney's Hunter's Green

This was the pitch for the one-shot: Reginald Athmore, an extremely wealthy recluse, has died without a direct heir of lineal descent. The managers of his estate have located three distant relations to inherit his money and property: John Edmund Athmore, a priest; Sebastian Raab, an aging dandy; Evelyn Ducayne, a young spiritualist. Your goal is to intercept one of the inheritors and take their place for the reading of the will. Someone will need to stand in as the inheritor, the rest of the group will pose as their servants and entourage. Once inside Athmore Manor, you will have the option of playing your parts to get a share of the inheritance or you might connive to lay hands on the entire bequest.


The gang started things off by researching their prize. Billy cased the Athmore house by day and reported back that it was set far from the street with plenty of grounds surrounding it; he also learned that it was guarded by hounds. They also learned the names and roles of everyone in the household: Mary (the cook), Jenkins (the groundskeeper), Sandra (the maid), and Boniface (the butler). Furthermore, they discovered that the lawyer overseeing the division of the estate was a man named Merrik Ashford. 

The group settled on Evelyn as their target; Dusk learned that she had only lately risen in the world and had come from obscurity and poverty. She was living out of hotels, and they tracked her to her current digs at the White Owl.

Thistle and Dusk tailed Jenkins to his local pub and filled him full of booze to pry information from him. The people set to inherit Reginald Athmore's fortune were strangers to him in life. Jenkins also had no idea where Athmore kept his treasure on the premises, but he is sure that Athmore's wealth is very real. 

Meanwhile, Fox contrived to bump into Merrik Ashford's secretary and steal the keys to his office from her pocket. Unfortunately, Fox discovered that the file on the Athmore inheritance was already missing from the filing cabinet. 

As their plan came together, Dusk decided to pose as a private detective and tell Evelyn that she was going to be in grave danger at the reading of the will at the Athmore house. He convinced her to let the characters accompany her to the manor to provide protection; they would pose as her servants and entourage. 

As they gathered with the other inheritors in Athmore manor, they sat in a parlor where they were offered drinks by Sandra. Merrik Ashford entered and informed them that the will would be read at midnight, as per the instructions left by Reginald Athmore. They learned that the Athmore house was famous for its collection of ancient suits of armor and that Reginald was buried in the crypts beneath the house.

Billy took the opportunity to slip away and explore while the others held the conversational fort down. In a ballroom on the house's second floor, Billy discovered Jenkins's body hanging from a noose.

Thistle also broke away and began to explore the crypts. He found a sealed vault for Reginald Athmore that looked to have been recently bricked up. However, he also saw a light approaching and hid behind a pile of nearby masonry. As the person passed, he observed that it was a bluecoat holding a pistol. 

Billy continued to explore and located a secret door in the gallery of armor. The door led to a laboratory where someone appeared to be actively engaged in researching the properties of blood. He also found a list with the inheritors' names written down as potential test subjects. 

Back upstairs, Evelyn and the rest of her "entourage" were being seated for dinner. Sandra, the maid, kept making passes at Fox and even slipped him a note requesting a late-night tryst. 

Back in the crypt, Thistle was attacked by the bluecoat, who fired his pistol at him. Thistle managed to dodge the shot, but was pistol whipped for his troubles. Billy arrived in the crypts and the two of them tailed the bluecoat detective as he exited through a secret door.

Back in the dining room, everyone present heard the sound of gunfire. Fox and Dusk decided it was time to gather everyone and get them outside to safety. However, Fox ended up in a brawl with Boniface, the butler, who seemed to be in on some sort of plan. Boniface broke Fox's nose, but took a shot in the shoulder from Dusk. The butler grabbed a knife and attacked Dusk, but Boniface was soon dealt with in a permanent fashion. 

Billy and Thistle chased the fleeing bluecoat into a topiary garden that featured a giant chess set. The bluecoat winged Billy with another shot, but was shot in return--as his blood flowed, both Thistle and Billy were aware of a terribly rancid smell now emanating from the detective. 

Dusk and Fox learned more about the situation in the house as they marched the remaining servants and inheritors out onto the lawn: no one ever saw Reginald Athmore's corpse after his supposed death, and prior to his demise he had been spending more and more time in his lab. 

In the topiary garden, the fight continued. Billy unleashed his magical power, surrounding his fists with ghostly light--the blows he rained down on the bluecoat connected with a malign spiritual presence inside the detective. The "bluecoat" was destroyed--but, as they put the pieces together, they realized that the detective was not what he seemed.

The bluecoat was actually Reginald Athmore in disguise. He had faked his own death and had, in fact, been cheating death for centuries. The elixir that kept him alive could only be made from the blood of his relations; over the years, he had exhausted the nearest branches of the family tree, which is why he had to invite such distantly related strangers to his house under the guise of being "inheritors." He planned to kill them and use their blood to restore his unnatural longevity.

Of course, now that the house was now clear, the gang took the opportunity to rifle the place. They discovered Reginald Athmore's fortune hidden away inside the suits of armor in the gallery. Another successful, if bloody, heist!