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World of Darkness: The Academy - Chapter 8b: Books Are For Nerds

Dawn OOC

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The library was quiet. It was early in the semester and a Saturday morning; even the single librarian looked like he was trying to find work to do. The magazine room was off to the left as one entered, while the stairs to the upper level – and all the books – were to the right. The librarian’s desk was a massive square that occupied most of the first floor. The restricted books were in a locked room behind the desk.

The librarian waved absently at the kids as they walked in; Swan slipped to the far side of Sean and tried to blend with the others. Marcos didn’t seem to notice her because he was looking at Mari. “Hey, Mari,” he said, giving her a smile. He was older and balding, but in decent shape for his age. He also loved showing off pictures of his grandkids to anyone who’d pay attention and one of those people was Mari. “We got a new book in about female saints. It has a great chapter on Saint Barbara. I held it back for you, if you’re interested.”

Somehow, it wasn’t surprising that Mari knew everyone.

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“Yeah, definitely!” Mari detached herself from Ravi’s side and bee lined to the librarian’s desk. “Thanks, Marcos.” It had cost the dapper older gentleman a lot of insistence, but Mari had finally dropped the Mr. Andrews. “How’s Leah and Peter doing?” No sooner had Mari asked the question than Marcos was pushing the latest set of pictures across at her. Inside an envelope a dozen polaroids chronicled the adventures of a freckled girl with glasses and a skinny brown haired boy. The boy was blowing out candles on a cake. Splashing in a pool. Grinning out of a tire swing. The girl was attacking a stuffed panda twice her size. Cradling a kitten with a look of rapture on her face. Holding up chocolate smeared hands and wearing the evidence of her brother’s birthday party all over her face.

“These are way too cute!” Mari whispered, grinning widely as she spread the photos out before her on Marcos’s desk. “Ravi, come look at these!” she pointed at the picture of Leah and the kitten. “Look at those big eyes, she’s so adorable!”

“Their mother just sent me those.” Marcos tried, and failed, to hide his pride.

“I love the dress.”

“She never takes it off, I’m told.” Marcos whispered back, acknowledging Ravi with a smile and nod. He reached under his desk for the reserve stack and produced the book. The cover was a reproduction of Mary Magdalene in stained glass. “Let me know what you think of it.”

Mari carefully re-arranged the pictures, sliding them into the envelope and passing them back. “I will,” she promised, taking up the book and holding it to her chest. “thanks!”


Height: 5'1", Weight: 102 lbs, Hair: Dark brown, Eyes: Hazel, Striking looks 4, Dexterity 4, Presence 4

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Nodding to Marcos Ravi picked up the singled-out photograph of the child and the kitten, which was itself wearing the startled expression common to young cats everywhere even as it padded at the kid's face with one paw.

"You're a lucky man, sir. She's a heartbreaker already." he told the librarian with a grin as he slid the picture back onto the desk with the others for Mari to put away. As Mari scooped up the book the man had reserved for her, Ravi nodded politely and steered her away, heading the direction that Sean and Swan had taken.

"Okay." he whispered to the others as they moved into the stacks, his eyes glimmering eerily as they passed in then out of direct light. "What exactly are we looking for here? All I know is that people think there's something here to find."

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While Mari and Ravi occupied the Librarian with they friendly distraction, Sean led Swan upstairs into the abandoned stacks of books. Admittedly, it wasn't his favourite building at Dalton, but he ended up spending more time here than he wanted, trying to catch up on American history. Snort! With magic and Werewolves-cats-whatever and God knows what else, who knows how skewed the history books - American, Canadian, or otherwise - are, how much was hidden. Maybe because it was a route starting to become habit, he and Swan ended up in the history section, in a nook between shelves against the far wall.

The silence of the Library seemed to weigh on Swan, who took care to keep her steps quiet and glanced around at the mass of bound paper with something akin to awe. Ravi led Mari upstairs with certainly, but that certainty faded as scent after scent from student traffic was overlaid his path, in addition to the scent of paper and the glue in there bindings. Still, he strode forward confidently until Mari peered down a row of shelves and saw Sean and Swan at the end, and pointed them out.

Sean was wondering where to start when Ravi and Mari joined them. "Okay." Ravi whispered to the others as they moved into the stacks, his eyes glimmering eerily as they passed in then out of direct light. "What exactly are we looking for here? All I know is that people think there's something here to find."

"Y'know, I'm not really sure," Sean admitted, keeping his voice just as low as Ravi's. "If this was a video game, I'd say the obvious place would be in the Restricted Books room behind the Librarian." Sean's dark brows knitted as he considered something else. "But that might be too obvious. Brahn mentioned that, uh..." Sean looked down the row, then the one crossing it even though none of them had seen another student, before continuing, "... they had been here before. I was thinking about checking the yearbooks. Know how we write stuff that looks like gibberish, but it actually means shit for those it was meant for? What if the students or whoever back then did the same? We got some names and references and stuff, we might be able to piece together their code. Some of it, anyway... If there's anything there, of course."

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"Worth a look." Ravi said after a moment's thought. He studied Swan intently for a moment, then looked at Sean. "If all else fails, we can distract Marcos and try to gain access to that locked room behind him." Mari shifted uncomfortably at the thought of deceiving the kindly older man and Ravi smiled at her reassuringly. "A last resort only." he murmured. "Let's try searching the yearbooks first... and the newspaper records if they have them. Local papers back then might have run some stories about strange happenings."

He paused for a moment, nostrils flaring slightly as they detected an eddy in the scents. A girl appeared at the far end of the row, but continued on without looking towards the four conspirators.

"Let's find what we need, then." he suggested.

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Mari glanced after the departed girl and then turned to Ravi and nodded her agreement. “We can look at the microfilms together and see if there’s anything in the newspapers...do you guys wanna check the yearbooks? Oh, here...” Mari patted the pockets of her delightfully short shorts, and came up with a crumpled up gum wrapper. She unfolded the wrapper into a little pink square and then stood with it in her outstretched palm, looking up down the aisle like a child waiting to cross a street. “Oh!” she exclaimed, making a quick dash to one of the study desks lined up against the wall. From a cup she extracted a stubby number two pencil with a broken string still tied to one end. The three of them could see her hunched over the desk, scribbling, her long hair falling over the sides of her face. Then she straightened, swept her hair back out of her eyes, and ran the little pink note back to Sean. “That’s my cell. You can text me if you guys find anything, or if you can’t or whatever, kay?”

“Sure,” Sean tried not to laugh.

“What?” Mari asked self-consciously.

“Nothing,” Sean assured her. “we’ll text.”

“Kay.” Mari watched Sean and Swan disappear into the book-stacks. “Have you seen that girl’s eyes?” Mari asked Ravi. “They’re even stranger than yours. They’re just totally black and empty—they creep me out.”

“Mine are strange?” Ravi smiled.

“But they’re good strange.”

The young nobleman chuckled and patted Mari’s shoulder reassuringly. “Let’s see about that microfilm.” Mari nodded and off they went, an unlikely but handsome couple.


Height: 5'1", Weight: 102 lbs, Hair: Dark brown, Eyes: Hazel, Striking looks 4, Dexterity 4, Presence 4

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Sean looked down at the pink square of paper, a bemused grin playing around his lips as he and Swan walked towards the front of the room, to find out where the Yearbooks were stored. He pulled out his battered Samsung phone and began punching in Mari's number - he had a better chance of not losing it that way.

Swan glanced back over her shoulder in Mari's and Ravi's direction, as if the books were no impediment to her sight, then looked at the piece of brightly coloured paper in Sean's hand, her brow furrowing quizzically. "You two converse through the use of scrolls?" Swan asked, her tone puzzled. "That is seeming very time-consuming, when the girl, she is so close."

"Wha-huh? Oh! No, it's just another way to call -" Sean held up his phone, but after Swan just glanced at it with mild curiosity and complete incomprehension, he let it go. He didn't want to explain phones at the moment. "Well, it is just written words, so I guess textin' is sort like exchangin' letters. Just really short ones. Nevermind - ah, here we go."

Looking over the floor plan, Sean found that the yearbooks were also keep near the front, but to the side, the corner. Sean ran a finger down the variously coloured spines, all the way to the first one from 1949, then gave Swan a not terribly hopeful grin.

"Do you have any idea when your people came to Dalton before?"

Swan opened her mouth, paused for a moment, then closed it, lips tightening in frustration. "No. No! I try to look back, but the path of my memory grows dark, and I cannot find my way. I am sorry Sean. I know this may be important to the people of Dalton."

"It's alright, Swan. Seriously. You're every bit as much a victim as we are, here," Sean said, understanding her sentiments entirely. Even as they learned some of what they had forgotten, inside, Sean was worried even more about he hadn't recalled yet. "We'll just have to start at the beginning, then."

Sean grabbed the first dozen years, half a dozen to a hand, then led Swan to one of the wide cubby-desks, hooking the leg of the chair at the adjacent desk and dragging it over with his foot. Starting with '49, Sean showed Swan what he was looking for, writing on the inside of the front and back covers, and maybe in the margins throughout the rest of the book. He started with one book, and while he was on the next, he got Swan to look over the one he finished with, just in case he missed something.

Who knows, maybe something that just looks like gobbledygook to me will actually be in Cara... mese? Caramian? Whatever - there has to be something here... he thought, as he opened the cover and found a black and white photo of a smiling, mustachioed man, that the caption claimed was Wilbur Dalton.

Click to reveal.. (Damned books...)

Research Roll (if needed), burning Willpower to persevere in this trying task (if would be easier if he could just punch the books until they willingly gave up their secrets)

Int + Academics (Burning WP, +3 Dice): 6d10.hitsopen(8,10) = 5 successes!

"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield" is how you deal with damned books!

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Click to reveal.. (Hittin' the books!)

Int + Academics roll. No bonuses from Mari because she's still daydreaming about having the best Quinces EVAR and staring at Ravi's profile.

1d10=10, 1d10=9, 1d10=3, 1d10=4
poppin' 10

Belated bonus from History specialty:

Total of 2 succs

The English morning mist was being still clinging on at dawn as she waited for him near the ornamental fountain, her slender fingers dabbling in the water as she scanned the dark and mysterious woods. They didn't frighten her, not anymore. Because she knew the terror that stalked the wood had a human heart that had been given to her. The mist didn't chill her skin through the thin nightdress; rather, she felt warm imagining that soon he would return, stalking from the fog, and wrap strong arms around her...


...he would murmur in his soft, purring voice as they walked together in the beautiful gardens of his family's palace in India, his deft hands tucking one of the colorful exotic blooms of the garden behind her ear. He smiled at her and leaned down to kiss her lips with barely tamed passion...


"...will you marry me?" he asked, looking up at her from one knee, his bearing still proud even though his wild green eyes were softened by love. She didn't care that everyone was watching, that this was her Quinceañera. Her mother was beaming and her sisters, jealous though they were, were so happy for her and...



"You're supposed to be checking out the microfilm reader?" Ravi pointed out, half-amused and half-exasperated. Mari blinked and she realised that she'd been leaning towards Ravi, engaged in rapturous contemplation of her boyfriend. Her boyfriend. No matter how she thought about saying it, it still sounded awesome.

However, right now they were supposed to be looking for information about the last time these Caramels had come to Dalton. And the whole time, she'd been staring at Ravi. She turned beet red and smiled sheepishly.

"Sorry." she murmured, unable to stop smiling at the daydreams she'd been having. "I.. uh... Got distracted?" Ravi shook his head, but his smile was good-humoured and forgiving.

"It's okay. I think I've found something. Here." Ravi patted the seat beside him, but when Mari left her reader and moved over to sit, he wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her gently onto his lap. In response to her muted, but far from displeased squeak he put his lips to her ear and whispered. "You can see it better this way. It's saying something about Troubles in 1975. People died or disappeared, both students and faculty, but there's nothing after the first two days of reports. Nothing about investigations or anything. A statement from Dalton's wife on his behalf, and then here..." he showed her another page. "One year later, Trevor Dalton died. He'd all but retired from running the school after what happened."
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“There was this guy—“ Mari started to say excitedly, turning and then finding herself nose to nose with Ravi’s darkly handsome face. She was suddenly and acutely aware that Ravi’s hand rested lightly on her hip, that her arm lay across his wide shoulders, and that the weight and warmth of her thighs was pressed against his lap. “—and, um.” Mari’s voice petered off. There was a squirmy heat building inside of her. Ravi’s eyes were shining like the eyes of a cat in the darkened microfilm room and Mari couldn’t look away from them. Their golden greenness took her breath away. “At this burger place...” the flustered little teen tried again. Maybe if she stayed perfectly still, she wouldn’t have to worry about the whisper soft slide of her skin against Ravi’s pants when he shifted her, or how hot she felt, or how cute that one slightly crooked incisor looked when he smiled. He was smiling at her now.

“Burger place,” Ravi helpfully supplied. With Mari so close, the scent of her, girlish and soft beneath the coconut milk and brown sugar smells of her skin lotion, were laid bare. He breathed deep of it. He could smell the delicate bouquet of her arousal, earthy and sweet and mixed up with trepidation. He could smell her beating heart. Strong and young and a little frightened. He could practically smell her blush. It was like smelling her nakedness.

“Yeah, Burger Thief, or Burger Bandit or something like that, just down the hill.” Ravi watched the sensual curve of Mari’s collarbone disappearing under her hoodie as she went on, “And there was this guy there and Renata was like, picking a fight with him basically, which I thought was pretty stupid, cuz this guy was like...bigger than Sean. And old and kinda scary looking. And he was talking like about how our school. How something weird happened at our school in seventy five, and we should be careful. And...they.” Mari felt Ravi’s gaze on her neck and shivered.

“They had really good milk shakes.” Mari whispered.


Height: 5'1", Weight: 102 lbs, Hair: Dark brown, Eyes: Hazel, Striking looks 4, Dexterity 4, Presence 4

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"Mmmhmm. Milkshakes?" Ravi said softly, the word somehow the most erotic thing Mari had ever heard as he leaned a little closer to her, head tilting as he inhaled slowly a couple of times. The nubile young freshman realised that he was tasting her in the air, letting her scent flow over his palette while the whole time his eyes were studying her face.

"Y-y-yeah." Mari almost closed her eyes, the stutter coming not from fear but from that squirmy feeling deep inside her spreading up into her lungs and chest. She couldn't take her eyes off his. "Re-really g-good ones." she whispered breathlessly.

"I remember when we first met." Ravi murmured, himself entranced by Mari's scent and the sight of her eyes dilated with hopeless arousal. He leaned in closer yet, his face brushing the curls of her hair as he breathed her in. "You thought I was going to kiss you and I smelled your hair instead." A grin tugged at the corners of his sensual mouth.

"I remember." Mari whispered, turning her face towards him, scarcely able to breathe. "That was really mean, you know-mmmmh." Her eyes closed and a delicious zinging fiery wave went crashing through her young body as his lips pressed against hers, the kiss gentle, long and lingering. She felt, rather than heard the deep, nearly inaudible purr rumbling through his chest as she pressed herself to him. Ravi was aware of Mari's whimpering sigh, the taste of her lips, the way her lithe arms went around his neck and shoulders with surprising strength as she tried to anchor herself on him. They stayed like that for a moment, bodies pressed together, before the more experienced boy reluctantly broke the kiss, his senses spinning as he blinked a few times to clear his head.

"We... should maybe go and talk to this big man then. The one at the burger place." he suggested, touching his forehead to Mari's and looking into her eyes. "Go down, ask around..." he grinned. "...have a milkshake?"

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“You just purred at me,” Mari grinned back, still faintly blushing but less flustered than she’d been just a moment ago. She felt herself relaxing into the liquid heat Ravi’s kiss had left in its wake. She laughed light and catchy, and gazed at Ravi with shy affection from under her dark lashes. It was still hard to believe her own good fortune, but Mari was allowing herself to do just that. Her hands rested on Ravi’s shoulders, and the hard stringiness of his muscles reassured her that he was real. That this wasn’t going to be one of those hyper realistic dreams that she woke from with a groan, because it had been so good and then, poof, it was gone and instead of the armful of Ravi Mari thought she’d had, what she really had was the angry buzzing of an alarm clock reminding her that it was five thirty in the morning and she had to get up and go for her run, because if she didn’t she wouldn’t have time to get breakfast after her shower and then by the time math class was over she’d be so hungry she could scream, but then she’d get to the cafeteria and she’d have to choose between greasy cold cheese pizza and limp gray fish and the nice dream and the warmth of bed would be so far away she’d wonder how she could have ever thought it was real.

“I’m not squishing you?” Mari asked next. “I feel like I’m squishing you.”

“You’re not squishing me.” Ravi assured her. His hand slipped from Mari’s waist to her thigh.

“Oh.” The heat of Mari’s blush came racing back. Her skin was suddenly pebbled with goose-bumps and she felt a tingling shiver follow the line that Ravi’s fingertips traced across her leg. “Okay.” She almost jumped right out of Ravi’s lap, but she stayed, and told herself It’s no big deal. Relax. Then, as she was wondering just how far she was prepared to let Ravi go, she blurted “Earl!”


“Earl!” Mari repeated. “I just remembered it.”


Height: 5'1", Weight: 102 lbs, Hair: Dark brown, Eyes: Hazel, Striking looks 4, Dexterity 4, Presence 4

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Sean and Swan were deep in their research when Sean stopped, staring at an image. The page was for the Academy’s Young Adventurer’s Club. It seemed vaguely childish, even for something in the Seventies. The kids in the picture sure seemed happy about, grinning at the camera and throwing up various hand gestures – none of them were obscene, a near miracle among youth. All of them were dressed a little oddly; a fur hood on one or a necklace made of teeth on the other. Most of them leaned on or had carved walking sticks slung over their shoulders.

What had caught Sean’s attention was familiarity of one of the students in the picture. That’s me, he thought, then realized the person was too lean, his features a little rougher than Sean’s. The kid had a walking stick on his shoulders, his hands draped over the stick. He also had a vest made of some kind of furred animal; in the old picture it was hard to see details. His expression was one of confidence and determination – and it was really familiar.

Frowning, Sean peered at the caption below the picture, counting over until he found the right name: Dean Cassidy. Startled, Sean sat upright before hunching back over the picture, double-checking it again. My father was part of something this lame?

Swan leaned over to peer at the picture. Suddenly, she pointed to the man to the side: Wilbur Dalton. He seemed just as enthused as the children with him; his walking stick was in front of him, one hand resting over the other on the head of it. Sean could just make out the leather and bead bracelet on his left wrist; it seemed out of place with Dalton’s tweed and bowtie.

Sean checked out the caption and felt his jaw drop a little as he read: Wilbur Dalton, Faculty Sponsor.


Mari was staring deeply into Ravi’s eyes, so it was understandable that she’d miss the man who approached them. It was only when he touched her arm as it rested across the back of Ravi’s shoulders did she notice him. “I found you. I seen you glowin’ from Denver,” he murmured, his lips parting in a grin. “I found you.”

Mari leapt off of Ravi’s lap as the werecat turned, eyes narrowing at the stranger. “Mari, perhaps you’d care to introduce me to your friend?” Ravi asked, eyeing the older man. He was dressed in scraggly, dirty clothing, but didn’t smell bad. His eyes were hidden behind dark glasses but he appeared to be smiling at something just over their heads. He was brown-skinned but his ethnicity wasn’t clear.

“I… don’t know him,” Mari said before tentatively offering her hand. “It’s nice to meet you. You are?”

The man didn’t reach for her hand. Instead, he stuck his own out and said, “I’m Hector. And it’s nice to meet you, young lady. I sure didn’t expect you to be a girl, ma’am.” Mari and Ravi both realized with a jolt that the man was blind.

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What are you doing here? How did you get in here? How come you’re looking for me? Mari wanted to blurt out. Instead, she shifted her hand to his and shook it politely. She couldn’t remember any blind Hectors from Queens, but she hadn’t forgotten her manners. Being caught on Ravi’s lap had set her heart to racing. She blushed as guiltily as when she’d been caught trying on one of Yani’s bras, until she realized it made no difference to Hector. She could have been buck naked for all he’d care. Ravi would care though...Mari glanced at him. He looked every bit as confused and surprised as she did. Why hadn’t he smelled Hector coming the way he’d smelled Ms. Dorn outside his room? Maybe he was too distracted. With me. Mari thought.

She noticed Ravi’s shirt then and her blush returned as she read it. She found herself strangely glad that Hector couldn’t see it. Why should she care about the opinion of strange old blind guy she’d just met? Why should it matter if he approved of her boyfriend or not? I will lead the blind by a road they do not know, by paths they have not known I will guide them, I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I will do, I will not forsake them. ...and where had that come from? Maybe Isaiah.

“What did you mean you saw me glowing?” Mari asked, glancing sidelong at Ravi.


Height: 5'1", Weight: 102 lbs, Hair: Dark brown, Eyes: Hazel, Striking looks 4, Dexterity 4, Presence 4

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When Renata got to the library, she realized that she had no idea where in the big building to find Mari. For some reason her mind had edited the library down to a card catalog and a small room full of books. Faced with its rows upon rows of shelves, on two floors, she started her search in the least efficient possible way. Wandering aimlessly.

After a few frustrating minutes, she realized she had more to work with than randomness. They'd come here to do research. So they'd need some kind of index. And since they wanted to look back into the past, maybe some kind of archive.

A visit to the info desk informed her that the archives were mostly on microfiche, so she made her way in that direction. With some focus now, she moved more slowly, more quietly. She wasn't sure how Ravi's cattyness worked when he was in human form, but she knew it was damn hard to sneak up on a real cat unless it was sleeping. The good news was that the library was quiet, and she could hear the sounds of even murmured conversation from a few rows away.

She stopped once she could hear the words, and once she was sure at least one of the speakers was Mari.

Who the OTHER guy was, she had no idea...but at least if there was speaking going on, it meant that their mouths weren't being used for other purposes.

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Sean's next thought after finding out his father used to be a Junior Safari Troupe Member was, Didn't Dad say he played baseball and football in high-school? That was followed by, Dad went to Dalton? That last thought filled him with an odd sense of déja vu, but his father hadn't mentioned anything about it when they and the Fairview women had gone out for dinner. He instinctively reached for his phone to call his dad, but stopped. Dad and Candi were in Vienna, and out of contact.

He glanced over the names in the caption again, eyebrows rising as he noticed a Hunter and a Hodges, plus several other last names he recognized among current Dalton students. Do Zach and Renata know their parents - I guess - went to Dalton too? Damn! Isn't that one the Sheriff?

Sean might have been willing to assume the Young Adventurers Club was just another social club with eccentric interests, save that the faculty sponsor was Wilbur Dalton himself. Reading through the Yearbooks, Dalton may have built and funded the Trevor Dalton Academy, and was well liked by both the students and faculty, but he hadn't sponsored any other clubs. And some of the odd clothing or jewelry the students wore seemed reminiscent of what the barbarian women wore in Frida's painting.

"I think we might have something here, Swan," Sean said softly to Swan, needing to say out loud, to work it out. "Brahn said something about Dalton making a Truce with the Caramines, right?" Swan looked from the photo of Wilbur Dalton, face close to the Yearbook, peering intently at the bracelet on his wrist, to give Sean a nod. "Right. Well then, we at least have a place to start. Let's go through the Yearbooks, only looking for the Adventurers Club Section."

It didn't take them long. Their inaugural year was the '72-'73 school season and their last official year was during '74-'75, though '75-'76 had memorandums on several students whose names they recognized from previous years. And there, another picture made him drop his mouth open in shock.

It was his mother... he thought. The girl looked remarkably like his sisters, though about his age, with the same raven hair and what he believed were the same sapphire eyes, though the colour was faded in the twenty-five year old book. And she was laughing, eyes smiling with her arms looped over his father's shoulders. She looked... happy. He'd never seen her like that before, never that... carefree. It was sort of disconcerting. The caption read: Dean Cassidy and Vanessa - At Least Some Ended Up Happy. There was no other references to Vanessa anywhere they could see.

"Doesn't seem like the YAC lasted very long," Sean pondered. "Guess it had no choice but to disband after the Door was closed. But the Yearbooks don't really tell us what they did." Sean pounded on the desk in annoyance, Swan giving a small start. Sean gave her an apologetic smile. "Sorry. Okay, let's ask the Librarian if there's anything more about the Young Adventurers Club of Dalton Academy." Sean held up the open yearbook, pointing at the picture of his parents, his grin widening. "After all, I'm simply interested in what my father was involved in when he used to go to Dalton."

Sean and Swan got up and put the Yearbooks back on the shelf, trying to make them look like they hadn't been disturbed. Which wasn't that useful, since they kept the several Yearbooks that had the Adventurers Club with them. Then they headed back to the front desk. Swan kept a step behind Sean, her eyes obscured by her dark hair and Sean waited silently for the Librarian to acknowledge them.

"Hey, Mr. Andrews," Sean said with a upbeat smile, "I was looking through the old Yearbooks for a project for Ms. Dorn's class and found a picture of my dad from when he was a student here. It seems he was a member of something called the Young Adventurers Club and I was just wondering if the library had anything that talked about what it was, old school papers or something..."

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Ravi was thoughtful as he absorbed what the old man was saying, his green eyes weighing some thought or other as he glanced from Hector to Mari, meeting her gaze inscrutably.

She does kind of glow. he thought to himself. There's something altogether intoxicating about her, something that makes me feel calmer, like a better person...Heh. Walking catnip? He returned his unblinking attention to Hector.

"What do you know about Mari, Hector?" he asked politely, his curiousity masked behind centuries of breeding. Three weeks ago, he might have just been humoring the old man, noblesse oblige and so on. Not now. With all that was strange and odd going on around here, mysterious blind old men might actually be worth listening to.

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Hector smiled at nothing in particular. “I see her shinin’ now,” he said dreamily. “Don’t you doubt me. It’s all my poor eyes can see.”

“I don’t doubt you,” Mari said, giving Ravi a sad look that said she thought he was disturbed.

“You’re like an angel,” Hector said.

“Yes, she is,” Ravi said, drawing another innocent blush from Mari.

“You’re gonna hurt her, kitty-cat.” The statement was said without rancor or anger, but simple fact. His smile was gone though and his eyes were more or less looking at Ravi.

At that moment, a gust of wind burst through the room, rattling paper and slamming the microfiche drawer into Ravi’s elbow.

Mr. Arnold listened to Sean’s request with a polite-I’m-going-to-help-you-now smile, but that changed when he mentioned the ‘Young Adventurers Club’. The man’s smile widened. “Oh, wow,” he said. “I don’t remember any of the students coming to ask for that. The Young Adventurers had a monthly newsletter that they put out for the campus. They were a writing group, you know? They wrote stories about fantastic worlds that they pretended to visit. Hang on, let me get you the newsletters.”

Mr. Arnold scurried around the desk and disappeared into the magazine room. Soon he came back with three magazine holders, packed with papers. “These aren’t the originals,” he explained as he set them on the counter. “These are copies because the originals fell apart. And I can’t let you check them all out at once – three max. But you can look at them here.

“Man, I love these,” Arnold continued, picking one up and thumbing through it quickly. “I take them home and read them to my grandkids. They love them. These kids had some imaginations, lemme tell ya. Who was your dad?”

“Uh, Dean Cassidy,” Sean said, feeling a bit surreal.

“Oh, he had some good stories. He made his girlfriend into an Amazon, of all things, who gave up her entire way of life to be with him,” Arnold added. “The school’s founder was their faculty advisor and he even wrote a story or two.” He realized he was babbling and put the newsletter back in the file with the others. “Do you want to take some home or look at them here?”

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Renata frowned from behind the shelves, unable to see more than suggestions of movement and straining to hear the softly spoken words. One sentence stood out in her ears though;

You're gonna hurt her, kitty-cat.

The words clenched her fists and gritted her teeth. That guy knew about Ravi! It took all her willpower to keep herself from rushing over there...though as it turned out, it was a good thing she didn't.

Just then, there was a gust of wind that whooshed through the library past Renata, shaking pages and creaking shelves in its wake. She turned to look back; had someone opened a window up here? Then there was a wooden rattle and a slamming noise that brought her attention back to the victims of her eavesdropping. Unable to see what had happened, she risked peeking around the edge of the shelf. One of the drawers full of film was open, and Ravi was glaring at it, rubbing his elbow.

She could hear Mari asking in a startled, worried voice, "Are you okay?"

Certainty grabbed her. That old man did something to Ravi. He's like Pritchard! Nebulous ideas began to finally take solid shape in her mind. If she was going to make it at Dalton, and protect Mari, she needed power. Pritchard was one place to look...now she had another.

Quickly she retreated back behind the shelf and continued listening as she made and revised her plans.

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"I'm fine." And the term 'growl' was definitely not a figure of speech in Ravi's voice as he rubbed at his elbow, eyes narrowed in pain as he stared at Hector. He took a breath, then said again in a calmer tone "It's just a bump, Mari." He didn't take his eyes off Hector.

"Alright, friend." There was a definite chill to the werepanther's politeness now. It was obvious enough that he felt somewhat aggrieved. To Mari's eyes her boyfriend was practically bristling. "It's obvious you know some things, and can do some things, but let us get a few ground rules laid out right now, hmm?" The lean youth slowly uncoiled from his chair to stand beside Mari, resting one brown hand on her shoulder.

"One, I have no intention of hurting Mari. Now unless you're a blind soothsayer and can see the future without any margin for error, I'd advise you keep your opinions to yourself." His hand gently squeezed Mari's shoulder. "Secondly, you seem friendly, and I'm sure you mean well, but 'kitty-cat' is off limits when applied to myself. It's the first time anyone has ever called me that, and it had better be the last. And thirdly-" he stopped, eyes moving this way and that. Something had tickled at his senses, a movement of shadow beyond the old man's shoulder, a soft step that was as loud as a hard shoe on wooden flooring to him. He breathed in slowly through partially opened lips, tasting as well as smelling the air. The breeze that had stirred up the stillness here in the library had carried a fresh scent to his nostrils. One that he knew.

"Ms Hodges." he said out loud, one corner of his mouth lifting in a sardonic smile. "Do come and join us. Pull up a chair, and then you won't have to strain your hearing back there. After all, people who eavesdrop seldom hear anything they like."

Click to reveal..

Perception roll

1d10=9, 1d10=2, 1d10=9, 1d10=9, 1d10=3, 1d10=5

3 succs

Fear teh kittehz awesum sences!

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Renata cursed inwardly, but forced a bemused smile onto her face when she looked out into the narrow corridor between the shelves, making as if she’d just now spied Mari and Ravi. "Hmm? Oh, there you guys are," she said. "The rest of us decided I shouldn't go on the Pritchard trip, so I figured I'd come help out. Big place though."

“Who’s your friend?” Renata asked. Strolling over nonchalantly she poured herself lazily into the chair offered by Ravi and glanced past him at Hector.

“This is Hector,” Mari answered as Ravi and Renata exchanged an icy glare. “Um. Hector, this is my friend, Renata.” and she’s been spying on us and watching us make out and we definitely need to talk. Mari thought as her blush deepened. But who knew how much of the Ravi and Mari movie her friend had seen. Maybe Renata had missed the kissy parts. That would be a small consolation. Next time we make out, it’s gonna be somewhere safe. And private. Mari decided.

Feeling the angry tension that Ravi, standing at her side, seemed to radiate, Mari lightly placed her hand against the small of the young man’s back and rubbed. The delicate weight of Mari’s palm breathed warmth through Ravi’s shirt and skin. A deep relaxing heat pulsed through his taut muscles as if he’d just spent the last hour with an especially talented masseuse. When her hand fell away the throbbing ache in Ravi's elbow was gone.

For a long moment, Mari struggled with what to say. She had been about to offer Hector help. Maybe he had left the care of his family, or a nursing home somewhere, and gotten lost. A poor delusional blind man chasing after angels. She had to do something for him...but then he’d called Ravi a kitty-cat. How could he know about that? Mari felt a cold shiver. She looked up at Ravi, bit her lip, and turned her attention back to Hector.

“So. W-why were you looking for me?” Mari finally stammered out.


Height: 5'1", Weight: 102 lbs, Hair: Dark brown, Eyes: Hazel, Striking looks 4, Dexterity 4, Presence 4

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I know Vanessa is tall - my sisters too - but c'mon, Xena? If Sean hadn't more than suspected the stories of the Adventurer's Club held at least some validity, he might have been a little grossed out reading his father's self-indulgent, teenaged fantasies. Actually, that Dean's Amazon girlfriend was more than likely his mother and not a fantasy at all, really didn't make it any better.

"Heh, guess that 'splains Dad's fascination with female sports, eh?" Sean commented in what he hoped the librarian took to be a cheerful tone. Sean picked up the magazine holders, handing one of them to Swan hovering at his side. "I think we're just gonna skim them for now. But I'll pick out three that catch my eye to take with me, if that's okay, Mr. Arnold."

"Sure, sure. Lotsa great stories in there," Mr. Arnold agreed with a wide, nostalgic smile. "Those kids sure had a good way with detail. They must've shared notes, because even though they had different styles, their settings, the details, held a seamless consistency." The librarian chuckled. "I could wish the writers on Star Trek had collaborated so well. But here I am, running on. Take a look through the Adventurer's Club's newsletter, hope you enjoy them as much as my grandkids do. The December '72, November '73 issues has some great stories. There's another one I want to suggest but I don't remember which..."

"Thanks, Mr. Arnold, I take a look at those," Sean said over his shoulder as he and Swan left the librarian in his ponderings. Sean and Swan shared a look as they headed back up the stairs, his storm-tossed sea coloured eyes bright with excitement.

"This might be the motherload, Swan," Sean exclaimed in a murmuring rumble. "Let's go join up with Ravi and Mari, see if they've found anything, then get their help to look through these," the thick-shouldered teen suggested.

His milky-skinned companion looked down at the sheaf of papers and pamphlets in her hands, eyes of solid onyx holding a pensive cast - and how he knew that, he didn't have a clue. Then she looked back up at him and gave him a definite nod. "The scribings on these scrolls may shed a light on the shadows obscuring our memories."

In agreement, Sean led Swan through the stacks towards the microfiche machines, after consulting the signs hanging from the drop-ceiling. Coming around the last stack into the area where the microfilm readers sat, Sean was already speaking before he realized there were two more people than he was expecting.

"Hey, Ravi, Mari, guess what we- Oh! Heya, Renata, Guy," Sean finished lamely. He covertly slid a hand behind his back, hiding the magazine holders he was carrying, then leaned against one of the solid book stacks, using his body to conceal what Swan was holding in her hands.

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"Sean!" Ravi said with heavily ironic jollity. "Come on over and join the party. This is Hector, who can see the truth of things despite being blind. Nice chap. And Renata here you know already." Ravi's green eyes were wickedly humorous, and his smile was razor sharp as his tongue. "She came to check up on us, which was nice, don't you think? All the important goings-on for her to be involved in and she thinks of us." He smiled sweetly at Renata, his green eyes blowtorches of mockery even though the rest of his expression was as pleasant as his smooth voice.

"She found Mari and I first, but I'm sure that was luck." He looked back at Sean, his face deadpan despite the laughter in his eyes. "The library is sizeable, after all."

Click to reveal.. (Bad Kitty!)
Yes, Ravi is trying to rile Renata up, because he's a gobshite like that and doesn't like being spied on. He's terrible at acting innocent, but he's very good at causing intense emotional reactions. I'm not sure there's a roll for this, but yeah, he's trying to provoke her.
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"Don't get a big head over it," Renata replied. "Everyone who didn't go to see You Know Who came here, after all. Anyway..."

She looked over at Hector. "You'll have to forgive Ravi. He's our resident douchebag. So what's your story, Hector? Do you live around here?"

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“I live where I am,” Hector said softly, “which is a fancy way of saying I’m homeless.” He didn’t seem to be ashamed of his status; there was no embarrassment in his voice or face as he spoke. “I follow the path before me, all the way from Chicago to Denver, and in Denver I saw Mari shinin’. So I followed her here, to see her glow in person. And ‘ere I find all kinds of things I can see. The cat. The girl with the million-mile arms. The boy who ain’t. And the one in transition.”

He paused and didn’t quite look at any of them as he said, “How many of you are there anyway? And what is your purpose? Do you know yet?”

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Renata frowned. Mari he named, 'cat' has to be Ravi. Since I'm the only other girl here, I must have 'million mile arms.' What a crock, why am I even listening to him? He's a crazy old bum!

"We're high school kids," she replied. "We don't start learning that until college, at least. That's like...a three hundred level course. Life And Its Meanings. We're still at 'Mastering The Challenges of Puberty.'"

She glanced at Ravi and smirked. "Well, some of us are, at least."

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"If you need any help with that, feel free to ask." Ravi riposted with a deceptively bland smile that was somewhat belied by the eerie shimmer of light catching in his eyes as he looked from Renata to Hector.

"There are others, Hector." he told the man politely. "Without naming names, I know of someone that can see the dead and another cat. There's some other strangeness going on too."

"As to the whys, wherefores and whatnots... That's why we're here in the library." Ravi said. "We're trying to make sense of things." He looked at Sean. "We found a few newspaper clippings. How'd you two do?"

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Mari had tried to zone out the nasty little asides between Ravi and Renata. She was thinking about Hector. He was homeless and blind...and he had come all the way from Chicago to ‘see’ her glow. What did his cryptic words mean? Did they mean anything? Maybe he was just a poor deranged homeless man. Maybe he hadn’t come from Chicago at all. Maybe he’d simply wandered up the hill from town, trying to find some place warm to sleep for a night in the school library. But no. That rang hollow and wrong. He had known to call Ravi a cat. Had he smelled it on him?

Mari turned to take a surreptitious sniff of her boyfriend, just in time to hear him propositioning Renata. “Ravi,” she said with mild reproach. “I’m like...standing right here.” The faintest scowl marked her brow. “Be nice to each other.” She admonished them both, then tilted her chin up at Ravi and tried to look stern. It might have been convincing if not for the blush. “and not that kind of nice, either.” She added in a hushed tone.

“Hector,” Mari’s attention was back on the strange blind man. As she struggled for what to say, she looked him up and down and felt a deep pang of guilt. I’m not much of an angel, Mari concluded. Before her stood a dirty blind old man. Whether he had come all the way from Chicago, or just climbed up the hill from town, he’d come a long way. And instead of thinking first of him, she’d wanted to pry all his mysteries out of him and make sense of them. What glow? What purpose? She’d been so wrapped up in the man’s message, she’d lost sight of the man himself. Share your food with the hungry and provide the poor wanderer with shelter-- when you see the naked, clothe him, and do not turn away from your own flesh and blood...and if you spend yourself in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

“Um. Are you hungry?” Mari asked.


Height: 5'1", Weight: 102 lbs, Hair: Dark brown, Eyes: Hazel, Striking looks 4, Dexterity 4, Presence 4

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Renata may have been made of sarcasm and surliness, but Sean wasn't going to step in whatever the Hell was going on between her and Ravi. Renata was... Renata and while Ravi was a pretty good guy despite acting like an entitled rich playboy - and being one - he did make every girl react strongly, one way or another. Sean raised his dark brows and snorted, then rolled his eyes at Mari's naive comment. He hoped that didn't end up badly, but Sean kept to the Guy Code and left Ravi to deal with it as he chose. Not a cockblocker was he.

Besides, most of his attention was on Hector. For a blind guy, he sure seemed to see a lot. Sean might have been concerned about saying anything in front of him, except Hector was already in the know. Kinda-sorta anyway. Still, he kept himself between Hector and Swan. So far, everyone who knew about the weirdness hadn't looked on Swan kindly.

Mari, he said what he saw, he knows about Ravi, Swan 'transitioned' from her world to ours I guess. I'm the boy who ain't since I could be considered a man, leavin' Renata with the 'million-mile arms'. Whatever that means, maybe she's a klepto?

"Heya, Hector, that's quick a trip you took for a glow," Sean said with polite cheer. "Yeah, there's also someone with radar vision or somethin'." He turned towards Ravi, holding up the magazine holders he was hiding behind his back. Swan stepped up to his side, another sheaf of magazines in her hands.

"We found something very promisin'," Sean said with a wide grin. "In the early to mid seventies, at Dalton Academy, there was the Young Adventurers Club, who put out newsletters showcasin' their 'stories' about the weird and fantastic worlds and places they 'visited'. Wilbur Dalton himself was their faculty supervisor." The quotations were obvious in Sean's tone. "My dad was a member, made his girlfriend an Amazon and after seeing Frida's sketches and the mural, I think Vanessa was one."

Sean faced Renata with a wry grin on his face, stormy eyes curious. "My dad wasn't the only one who was a member of the Adventurers Club - and for some reason, I wasn't actually surprised to find out he went here. There's a Hunter*, a Hodges, and a Racker. The damned sheriff was one."

Sean held up the stack of newsletters higher and gave them a little shake. "So who's up for some readin'? We can read them here, or take some with us. We can only sign out three newsletters each though, but I told Mr. Arnold that it was for a project in Ms. Dorn's history class." He gave Mari and Hector a friendly glance. "In case we want to scrounge up some grub."

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Originally Posted By: Mari
“Be nice to each other.” She admonished them both, then tilted her chin up at Ravi and tried to look stern. It might have been convincing if not for the blush. “and not that kind of nice, either.” She added in a hushed tone.

Ravi was used to being aroused and drawn in by pretty girls. He was used to being yelled at by them too, not to mention intrigued, captivated, and intensely interested, albeit far too often and far too briefly for most. Now though, looking down into Mari's hazel eyes framed by the attempted stern look and blushing cheeks, he experienced a rarer form of emotion. He was charmed.

He tried not to grin. It wouldn't do, really, to laugh at her, even if she didn't realise how cute she was being right now. Could anyone with working eyes not see that he and Renata were un-flirting? It was sarcasm and spite, and though he was enjoying himself immensely with it, Ravi was well aware that his erstwhile sparring partner was a rival, and a hostile one.

He draped his arms around Mari's shoulders as she turned back to regard Hector and murmured "As you wish." in the teen's shell-like ear, feeling the faint shiver run through her as his breath touched her neck. As she focused on the blind man, Ravi likewise looked at him from over her shoulder, his head close to hers as he studied the... soothsayer? Seer? Guide, perhaps?

"Yes, do come and eat with us. Lancaster cafeteria should be mostly empty today." his nose wrinkled faintly in distaste, though with Mari's fragrance in his nostrils that was hard. "All the gawkers should be around the Quad gossiping, which will give us some privacy." He nodded at Sean. "And we can grab some reading material as we go. I admit it: I'm curious. That's a bloody interesting find, Sean." He looked at everyone in turn. "Shall we, then?"
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"Adventurer's club?" Renata repeated, staring skeptically at Sean. "Seriously? My dad? Lemme see that."

She scanned the captions and names and frowned.

"I never knew he did anything creative," then gave Ravi a shrug, acquiescing to his suggestion.

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"That's right kind of you thinking of me, little lady," Hector said, ducking his head at Mari, a worn but welcome smile on his face. "It's been a long ways finding you and a man builds an appetite. It's mighty nice to see the glow about you goes all the way deep, it sure is."

Originally Posted By: Renata
"I never knew he did anything creative..."

"I'm thinkin' there's a lot we don't know, Ren - Renata, about a lot of things," Sean said with a wry grin. Sean glanced around the group consisting of four students, a woman from the Otherside, and a Blind... guy. He gave a Mari and Hector a nod - only realizing after he wasn't sure if or what Hector could see - and began leading the group back to the front desk. "Let's go and check these out over some grub. We can only check out three newsletters a piece, so there are some specific dates we might want to look at are..."

Making it to the front desk, Swan and Hector hovering at the bad, Sean gave Mr. Arnold a good-natured grin. "Hey, Mr. Arnold! Looks like I've roped a few more in Ms. Dorn's class to take a look the Young Adventurer's Club. We'd like to each sign out three of them apiece. Who knows, maybe you'll end up with some new stories for your grand-kids, eh?"

"I'm glad others are enjoying the Young Adventurers as much as I and my grand-kids do," Mr. Arnold replied enthusiastically. "And it would be great if the club would reform, I've already read these stories so many times. Looking forward to it already. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. Now, what would you like to check out? I really regret not being able to let you young folks take them all... but rules are rules, right?"

"Of course. We understand, Mr. Arnold. I'm gonna check out these ones - I just gotta start with what Dad wrote..." After everyone made their choices, the group trooped out of the Library, giving the librarian a friendly wave for his help, more help than he actually realized.

Sean led to group to Mars House, which being the Dorm of the majority of the male athletes, served the biggest portions in their cafeteria and actually had the best food, at least in his opinion. Like Ravi had conjectured, the cafeteria was sparse of students and Hector raised some eyebrows, though they seemed mollified by the explanation of them aiding the community. Settling into a corner table, varying quantities of food piled in front of them, the Dalton students looked at the stack of newsletters sitting in the middle of the table.

"Well, guess we should take a look at what the Young Adventurers had to say, eh?"

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"I just want to say," Renata said as she eyed the pile, "that this is probably the greatest find in the history of me-kind. I fully expect to have enough blackmail material on Dad from this to last me until Im forty-eight."

She made a 'toasting' gesture with an imaginary glass.

"So...good work, gang."

With that, she grabbed an issue and scanned the table of contents for anything particularly juicy.

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Hector remained near Mari, taking what food was offered to him and eating it with the carefulness of the blind. Even so, Mari helped him with a couple of minor spills as subtly as she could, trying not to draw attention to them. He listened quietly as the kids spoke, chuckling at Renata’s humor.

Renata’s scan of the Table of Contents didn’t give her much hope. The names were corny: Adventure on Ice Mountain, Lair of the Fire Knight and so on. But she gamely selected one written by her father and started to read…

I wasn’t sure how I had gotten here. We were both strapped to the table, Roger and I. He to his and me to mine. I was a little worried, but tried not to panic. If I had to be strapped to a table with no idea how I got here, I wouldn’t have picked anyone other than Roger to help me escape since he was so good at stuff like that.

“Roger,” I whispered. “You awake, man?”

“Yeah, man,” he whispered back. “Any idea how we got here?”

“No all I remember is going to sleep. Got Radiance on you?” It seemed like a good question to ask because Roger slept with the mystical sword next to him.

“Maybe. She might be in my back pocket which I can’t reach right now.” Roger’s sword could shrink down to a pocket knife which is how he could keep her at school without having trouble. He wouldn’t be parted from her at all.

“Maybe I can pull her out,” I told him, because I had the magical ability to move things.

“Ok,” Roger said, tipping to the side so that I could see the lump that was the magical sword in his pocket. But before I could attempt it, the door opened and giant bat-men walked in. Not like the comic book guy but like five-foot tall bats walking on their back legs-

Renata stopped reading and snapped the newsletter shut. “Oh, that was bad!” she sighed, pressing her hand against her eyes. “So bad!”

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Ravi blinked, the story Renata was reading out causing a moment of disorientation. Mari looked up from carefully placing a coffee cup in Hector's hands, aware of the puzzled look in Ravi's normally-certain (arrogantly so) eyes.

"What is it?" she asked gently. Ravi turned his gaze from the journal under Renata's hands to her, darkly-handsome face twisted as though struggling to remember something.

"That sounds weirdly familiar. Like a dream I had when I was ill with that dose of food poisoning just after arriving here. Bats walking on their hind legs. Being strapped to a table..." he tried to concentrate, but sighed and shook his head, relaxing back into his chair. "It was a surreal nightmare that I'd put down to the illness, but..." he glanced around the table at the others, then at Mari. "We already know that some dreams come true, don't we?"

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Mari all but glowed. She favored Ravi with a shy and bright and earnest smile and then just as she was about to float out of her chair and drift cheerfully toward the ceiling, it occurred to the little freshman that her newly declared boyfriend may have meant another dream. The troubled look on Ravi's face cut through her reverie. He had not meant the dream of being together and casting longing looks at each other in the cozy darkness of a library before blind prophets and friends with bad timing showed up to rescue them from the mounting tension of their own desire, from the aching expectation that furtive touches would pave the way for exploratory and breathless kisses...he had meant something else.

He had meant the dream of being lost in the cold mist-shrouded forest. Barefoot and shivering and searching for Ravi, only to find a black beast staring at her, angry and hungry for her blood. He had meant the terror, and perhaps for him the sick thrill, of the beast attacking, pouncing, standing over her triumphant and poised to finish off its prey.

Mari pushed her long hair back behind her ear as her glow faded to a simple blush. A second later the long lock slipped free again. She left it. "Sort of." She murmured at Ravi. He hadn't killed her after all. He'd twisted away at the last moment. Some part of him had fought the beast, kept it from attacking her. So it wasn't true what he said. That he and the beast were one. She refused to believe that. "But dreams are just, like a guide..." Mari glanced at Hector, then back to Ravi. "you don't have to let them...turn out that way."


Height: 5'1", Weight: 102 lbs, Hair: Dark brown, Eyes: Hazel, Striking looks 4, Dexterity 4, Presence 4

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"Yeah, but really? Bat-men? No wonder Dad doesn't write his own speeches," Renata said with a gleeful sort of scorn. "I could do better than this with fifteen minutes and a bowl of Alpha-Bits."

She frowned as she kept reading for a moment.

"So you guys really think they were writing about stuff that really happened?"

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Sean read a page of one of Dean's Cassidy's stories, then flipped it shut, before opening it again and reading another page. Forcing himself to not let his shoulders slump, Sean dropped the newsletter back on the table and gave Renata a self-deprecating grin.

"Eerie, ain't it? Readin' just a few pages, it sounds like his Vanessa is my mother - Vena - whatever-the-fuck. And it syncs up with Frida's mural and sketches. Except for the laughing and kissing parts." Sean gave an exaggerated shudder and went to peek at the newsletter again despite himself, then pushed it firmly away and instead picked up his fork and stabbed at a large piece of ham. "Dunno if they're all real, but I think there's more truth than fiction in 'em..." He trailed off, chewing contemplatively.

...Very well, young Amazon... Shanna, my daughter... The boy who ain't...

The handsome, heavily muscled young man shivered minutely, his habitual amicable expression growing closed and shuttered as he finished his food, jaw tight. He glanced at Mari and Ravi beneath thick, dark brows, grey-blue eyes deep and dark like a storm over the night seas.

"Stolen memories are one thing, but dreams and nightmares? They're just that, dreams and nightmares, they only mean as much as you let 'em." With an effort, he composed himself, putting a good-natured grin back on his face that seemed only a little forced, clearly not wanting to dwell on that subject. "So, who has any of Dalton's stories? As amusin' and creepy as it is to read about our parents, what does the big man on campus have to say? Mr. Arnold said December '72 and November '73 were particularly interestin'."

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“Yeah, right here,” Renata said, but Ravi was already holding up the booklet. He flipped through the pages and then cleared his throat. “Ice Maiden by Wilbur Dalton.” Ravi's suave British voice filled the air as he continued.

Once upon a time, a young man found the Door. This magical entrance would allow those who had the Keys to pass through and enter strange fantastic worlds. These worlds were places of delight and adventure, danger and glory. Together, the bravest of the Dalton students are the Adventurer’s Club, who bravely go to explore these fantastic worlds. These are their adventures.

The Door opened to a field of ice. I looked around warily as Dean, Rod and Alex followed me. “Watch your step,” I warned, taking careful steps.

“Sure thing!” Dean said, sliding across the ice with all of his boyish grace. “But you guys should be watching my cool steps.”

“Whatever, Dean,” Rod said, stomping out onto the frozen water. “Seems safe, but if you hear cracking, be sure to move away from it.”

Alex stepped forward, saying, “Dean, you’re always a show-off-” His words cut off as he slipped and fell backward, whomping to the ice!

“Whoa, Alex,” I said with a laugh, skating to him and offering my cane to him.

The young man was flustered, his cheeks flushed red from embarrassment. Dean was doubled over with laughter, while Rod spared one glance before turning to watch the area, ever vigilant. Alex muttered thanks and carefully stood up, shaking off my support with a young man’s bravado. After a moment, he said, “Shouldn’t it be colder?”

After a moment, we all agreed; for there to be ice like this, the area should be considerably colder than it was. Heja had warned us that it would be cold, but we’d expected worse. She was from a jungle climate…

Ravi continued onward, reading on through their encounter with the strange being who controlled and made ice and snow. The four had barely escaped with their lives, fleeing back through the Door just ahead of the Ice Maiden.

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Sean snorted with sardonic amusement, but his eyes tightened. Hearing about this side of Dad was eye-opening, and it was nice to know that at one time, when Dad had made a promise, he had followed through. "That sounds like Dad, also sounds like High School was a hell of a lot more interesting than he ever made it sound. Wide Receiver, riiiiight."

Shit! Now would be a time to talk with Dad, but he and Candy are off and out of contact in Venice. Double-shit! "So, looks like there's more than just the Caramines to look out for and the Othersi-" Sean began to hypothesize when he was interrupted by his phone vibrating in his pocket. With his previous musings, he scrambled to answer it, though he knew it was a longshot that it was his father.

"Oh, hey dude!" Sean stood up and shook his phone as he glanced around the table. "Guys, it's Ryan," he informed the group as he took several steps away so they wouldn't be speaking over each other. "Yeah, we found something alright..."

Finishing his phone call, Sean rejoined the others at the table, sprawling in his chair and beginning to skim the stories, looking for certain words or something to jump out at him. "Ryan's gonna join us soon, mentioned some stuff he, uh, found. Help me look through these, eh? We're lookin' for anything like a voodoo doll or maybe a fantasy-alien-to-English translation guide..."

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"So this has happened before and nobody thought to maybe make sure it didn't happen again eh? Figures. Mars cafe? Sure, I could use something to eat. We'll be there in a bit." Ryan poked at his phone and shoved it back into one of his pockets. "The others are at the cafe, apparently some kids went through this shit already an' some of them are our parents, or maybe some of our parents. I dunno. I'm gonna head over there."

Ryan didn't bother asking Brahn to come. The strange man would either follow or not, would either walk through a shadow and into the lunchroom or not. Ryan couldn't stop him even if he wanted to, and he was starting to want to.


Ten minutes later Ryan ambled over to the table with a tray ready to feed at least a few hungry lumberjacks. Cookies, juice, milk, sandwiches, fruit, and various other odds and ends were piled atop the simple brown slab of plastic. Ryan was chewing on something as he slide the tray onto the table with one hand and spun the chair around backward with the other before straddling it. "Yo," he managed around a mouthful of something that may have once been a brownie.

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