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[ETU] Session 18 - "Class Ring" - played 05 Aug 2021

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  • [ETU] Session 18 - "Class Ring" - played 05 Aug 2021

    Meh. Make that 05 Sep 2021. Can't change thread title.

    Placeholder for upcoming session write-up. After two back-to-back cancellations (sickness, camping, work) we finally had a day where me and all four players could attend. Not only that but we added a 5th player, a guy that did a Halloween one-shot DCC (Dungeon Crawl Classics) with us a year or two ago (I did not play that one). Play ended with the study group and Michael Landry discovering Lacey's corpse and deciding what to do next. But I'm getting ahead of myself ...
    Last edited by Eric; 09-10-2021, 10:50 PM.

  • #2
    In the East Texas University Student Dining Hall, three students arrived for breakfast to find their usual table occupied. Dexter Riley (Astro-Physics major), Jake Dormer (Business major), and Kristina Bradley (Music major) balanced their trays, backpacks and other gear, and espied a table for eight occupied by a sole student, a strapping Nordic male with straw-blonde hair and strong Aryan features.

    “Mind if we join you?” queried Jake, and the student responded, “Jah, jah” and shifted his own backpack to the floor between his feet. Introductions were made, and the student’s name was Sven, an exchange student from Sweden, studying genetics.

    As they settled in, Margret Winters sashayed up, grabbing the fifth seat. “I swear, Richard will be late to his own funeral”, she sighed, lamenting her sort-of boyfriend, Richard “Dick” Longh (Drama major). The pretty “Goth Chick” nibbled her toast, tossing her long black hair back to spill over her black half-cape. Sven awkwardly indicated that she looked like a vampire, which wasn’t far from the truth, with her pale skin, black nail polish, lipstick and eye shadow.

    The Swede tried to keep up with the banter regarding the activities of the previous evening, including but not limited to the history of the Lansdale Building, Psychology Major Lacey Henderson who vanished in 1977, her Class Ring (in Jake’s possession), Yearbooks and tampered-with records, Grumpy Criminal Justice Professor Dr Peter Hyde, and eccentric Architect Hugo Reid.

    It was impossible to reflect upon the odd occurrences at the Lansdale without discussing Ghosts, students dead from drug overdosing, possessed reel-to-reel projectors, helping a pregnant specter who had committed suicide pass on, and elevators that led to the very bowels of hell.

    Dick Longh arrived about half-way through breakfast, had a flirty and playful exchange with Margaret, and met Sven. The focus of his interest this morning was the acquisition of some sort of hand-held taser/baton, or a glove that emitted an electrical charge when used to punch.

    This led the group to decide that lunch “in town” might be fun, during the brief break they shared at lunchtime. Sven tagged along, interested in hearing more from this odd collection of students and the tales they told, so seriously. Entering Pinebox Pawn, passing beneath script over the business’ front door that read, “We buy and sell everything your heart desires.” The proprietor, the rather gnomish Forester Harris, produced the sheet music that Kristina Bradley had hoped was still available for purchase – a hand-penned Etude for Bassoon in C-minor. “A difficult piece”, Harris intoned, “but worth practicing, to be sure”. A mere sum of $22.00 was exchanged, and the sheet music was hers.

    The shelves were lined with various pieces of art, faceted crystal, glass balls, a pair of dueling pistols in a wooden box with two bullets, rare books, a few ceremonial daggers, a porcelain tea set. Forester did not offer his selection of wedding bands and engagement rings, this time. Dick was disappointed there was a dearth of armor and weapons, to which Forester responded, “You would be well served by visiting Kyle Sibley over at Fork-It-Up! Pawn. You’d think two pawn shops in such a small town would be in fierce competition, but our … clientele … rarely overlaps. He carries stereo components, bows, firearms, camping and sporting equipment, and such”.

    A trip to Fork-It-Up! Pawn satisfied Dick, who purchased a hand-held stunning stick that appeared to the casual observer to be a heavy-duty flashlight, but for the prongs used to arc the electric charge.

    A trip to Mom’s was also on the docket, for some “Good ‘ol down-home cookin’”. The establishment had changed hands several times in the past two-dozen years, but the name persisted. The hungry students devoured their lunch, including chicken-fried steak, fried chicken, mashed ‘taters and gravy, biscuits, and of course pie a ’la mode (Mom’s offered six different pie selections).

    Dexter Riley continued his chess game with his mystery opponent, upon the battlefield of one of the gigantic chess sets in front of the Zelmanek Mathematics Center. The opening gambits revealed the two to be evenly matched, both cautious, and cleaning the pigeon poop off the pieces they moved.

    With Sven still in tow, the study group visited their mentor, Professor Glen Maclanahan, the chair of the Anthropology department. Entering his cramped office in the drab William Greystone building, they greeted GlenMac, and his West Highland Terrier, Argyle, looked at Jake expectantly, demanding to be picked up.

    Jake acquiesced, and proceeded to provide skritches under the chin and behind the ears. Argyle nestled into Jake’s chest and sighed contentedly.

    They provided the Professor with an honest appraisal of their findings. GlenMac seemed to believe that the architect (Hugo Reid) and the attractive student (Lacy Henderson) had run away together, which explained their disappearance at the same point in time. Could a student be erased from college records and documents? Certainly, with time and determination. Lacey appeared in group photos from the period (1975-77) but her individual head shot was missing. Dexter had found the minutes of the Psyche club, which listed her as both Secretary and Treasurer, but her last name had been misspelled (“-en” instead of “-on”). No records of her tuition, transcripts, housing, and the like could be found.

    The themes of the carvings in and about the Lansdale were determined to indicate “Sacrifices for power”, “Prices must be paid”, “Rituals of death lead to dark powers extreme” and the coming of an endless night.

    GlenMac went on a bit of a reflective diatribe about those who ridiculed the loudest were likely the ones trying to cover up “truths”. He hinted having found (or knowing someone who found) a tusk suspected to have been shed by Hogzilla, a Winnebago-sized feral boar in the big thicket, which mysteriously vanished enroute to forensic lab study.

    Cryptids, he explained, were creatures that existed on the thin wall between science and mythology, like Bigfoot/Sasquatch, Yetis, Chupacabra, sea/lake monsters, and giant insects. But this ghostly female in the basement was something altogether different, a soul caught between existences begging the group to help her pass on to her final reward.

    “I don’t believe in ghosts”, muttered Sven. “You will”, replied the Professor. “You WILL”.

    After class, the five students reserved a room, B-4, in the basement of the Lansdale Language Center, a smallish room that abutted the Engineering Room where the group had discovered five live camera feeds to the computer within. Kristina prepared, then cast, the Grave Speak ritual, aided by her friends. The students had acquired a reel-to-reel tape projector for their use in the room, and again Lacey utilized it to aid in her communication. They asked where her corpse was (“I don’t know. Nearby!”) and such, but when they asked who killed her, the projector whirred to life.

    Four students in 70’s garb – two male, two female – gathered around a pentagram drawn in chalk on a tile floor. Joining them was an adult male, obviously Hugo Reid. One of the students was apparently Lacey Henderson. The five chanted, as Reid lit candles around the circle’s perimeter. A dead cat lie bleeding, its throat slit. Plastic sheeting covered some of the walls, those without the sheeting revealed cinderblock and cement.

    Reid circled the group, and when he stepped behind one of the boys, he slit the student’s throat, much like the dead cat. Blood spurt and the student collapsed soundlessly, as the other watched in surprise and horror. “HE IS HERE!” Reid cried, “SUCCESS, AT LAST!”

    The pseudo-movie was shown through Lacey’s eyes, intermixed with a perspective slightly behind her left shoulder. A vaguely raven-like visage appeared atop her face, with wicked gleaming black eyes and a wicked hooked beak.

    The door to the room opened. A much younger, bespectacled, gawkier Peter Hyde stood in the doorway. In the candlelight, the viewers saw him raise a pistol, aim it at Lacey, and shoot her once in the head. She collapsed to the tiled floor as the tape ended, again with the blep-blep-blep-blep sound as the tape’s edge spun free.

    Lacey’s spirit gazed sadly at the students in room B-4. “You are so close. Don’t give up. Please help me cross on. I believe in you”. Then she dematerialized.

    Sven had spent much of the ritual having crept over to the classroom’s door, with the usual rectangular window inset just above the handle. Using his body to block to flickering light of the candles, he had viewed the thick form of Michael Landry ambling down the hallway outside, speaking into a walkie-talkie about parts that were late being delivered and chasing down the reason for the apparent delay. It was about ten minutes past seven in the evening.

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    • #3
      The ritual having ended, the students cleaned up the effects and followed the supervisor into his office (the Engineering Room). He didn’t seem the least bit surprised to see them. He showed them (“Guess I should pick a better password”) a video clip from the feed out in the hallway, where Professor Peter Hyde strolled by, and behind him, the camera clearly showed the ghost of Lacey Henderson glaring furiously at his back. It all started to make sense.

      The students popped a few of the floor panels up – the Engineering room had a raised floor – revealing snakelike cables, wiring, and pipes upon a cements slab floor. Landry expressed unbridled excitement at taking part in the search for the missing student’s body. Nothing appeared to indicate a grave or pentagram beneath the panels, and Dexter tapped a hammer in places hoping to hear an echo.

      They exited the room and took a quick informal tour of the basement, as Michael pointed out certain rooms – the service elevator, restrooms, smallish storage rooms, and the areas beneath the stairs occupied by five-gallon cans of paint and several long, unmounted marker boards. The engineer also awkwardly repeated his suspicion that the male students that had died here in the Lansdale over the past decades had perished when trying to make love to the attractive ghost.

      While approaching the engineering room at the end of the tour, the students clearly heard a hollow, repeating rapping pattern on the left wall. “What’s on the other side, here?” they queried, to which Michael replied, “Well we aren’t next to my room yet, so it must be the Bookroom, you know, when a faculty member retires, all their books and stuff end up on a shelf in there”. Of course, he also had the key.

      In the large, somewhat L-shaped room the students split up and started looking for … something. Sven hefted a book, from one of the numerous shelves, with a hand-tooled leather cover, written in Spanish. Leafing through, he found ink drawings of … a Nosferatu, a Chupacabra, and a sort of Creature from the Black Lagoon critter.

      All the way in the rear of the large room, at the spot where the knocking sound had seemed to emanate, Jake detected wall paint of a slightly different shade of ecru than the adjoining walls. Dexter had produced his small hammer and had been tapping the walls and floors, and found the main wall was cinder block but the wall adjoining the engineering room sounded hollow, appearing to be metal-studded drywall.

      Landry indicated there was little done structurally in the basement back in the 70’s, just repair to sagging floors and cracks in the foundation, and a little face-lifting. These walls were not thick enough, he believed, to hide a body within.

      Cycling back to the Engineering room, having spent time in the book room, classroom B-4, and the engineering room, the study group figured out the dimensions didn’t seem to add up. The bookroom was much deeper than the widths of the room B-4 plus the engineering room.

      Shifting aside some of the materials against the engineering room’s rear wall, a pallet of plastic pipes, boxes of cables and other equipment, revealed a paint shade difference similar to the bookroom – the wall was lighter that the two adjoining walls. Discussing possibly busting through the drywall, Michael stated flatly, “Go ahead, if asked I will just say I accidentally hit it with a pallet jack”.

      This simple statement convinced the study group to break through a small portion of the drywall. A hidden room was revealed! Pointing a flashlight into the enclosure, they espied the decomposed form of a woman, covered with lye, inside a pentagram. Plastic sheeting covered the walls.

      The corpse of Lacey Henderson had been found at last, merely a few feet from Michael Landry’s perch, the entire time!
      Last edited by Eric; 09-10-2021, 03:20 PM.

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