“Hang on,” Henry just wanted to be clear, “I get a thirtieth of Great-Great-Uncle William’s estate?”
“Yes,” the elderly solicitor looked at him benevolently. “In Mr Hordren’s words ‘because of his common politeness and his frank self-assessment that he would be getting nothing in my will.’ Mr Hordren did not care for assumptions about the dispersal of his estate.”
Henry thought for a moment about his late relative’s house and its contents. After visits to William’s his mother and other female relatives had talked about ‘hoarder’ and ‘clean-up’. “This thirtieth share,” he asked cautiously, “is it by volume, weight or value?”
“Aptitude test,” was the reply. “Certain of your relatives who assumed themselves to be Mr Hordren’s main heirs based on primogeniture are receiving nothing. The existence of his children from several liaisons has come as a nasty shock to them.”
“I can imagine.” That branch of the family, and the gulf of generations between them, was why Henry had had no expectations on William’s death.
“The aptitude testing will take place at Mr Hordren’s house at 9:00am on the eighteenth.” Looking at Henry’s face the solicitor added, “He has made provision for the estate to pay your salary for the day if you need to take leave without pay to be there.”
Not wanting to be late, Henry arrived at fifteen minutes to nine and was admitted to one of the front rooms by the formidable housekeeper who’d kept family unclutterers at bay for years. By nine on the clock, there were seven of them in the room: himself; his first cousin Annabelle; two more distant cousins descended from William’s youngest brother; two of William’s own hitherto unknown descendents; and a completely unrelated blond boy of an age with the rest of them.
At one past the hour the solicitor entered the room with two costumed figures. The seven young people fell silent, feeling far too close to an impending clash between the Green Seer and the Fallen Mystic.
“The late Mr Hordren was,” the solicitor said drily to the room at large, “a trophy collector during the period when he operated as the Masked Shadow. Consequently, he had a number of items that he felt should only go to suitable recipients. Before his death he arranged for the two most powerful and ethical sensitives currently working to assess each of you. Based on their findings you might receive your thirtieth share in cash or you might receive a combination of articles.”
Henry, for one, was flabbergasted. Nice, old, slightly strange Great-Great-Uncle William was one of the most notorious super villains of the first half of the previous century. It seemed impossible. He and Annabelle exchanged looks, the rest of the family was never going to believe it. And yet…