Thursday, December 5, 2019

A Tale of Two Curses

The next morning, Alistair happened to catch sight of the News Journal's front page: a known drug dealer - specifically, the same that worked for the Ring, and sold Alistair some drugs (a drug? One drug? It was only a single dose) - was pulled from his parked car and beaten. The police labeled the attack as drug gang violence, despite the stash being destroyed rather than stolen. There was a handwritten note left on their hood claiming "the Lord's retribution."

That evening, the group joined the Sword of Adam at the prearranged meeting place. Dan, the leader, introduced himself; the others seemed much more at ease, talking and laughing. Dan handed out masks, and told everyone that they were heading for the 'mushroom building'. Once inside, they found a group of four co-eds in the middle of a ritual! The Sword of Adam smashed the various items involved, and began harassing the women. Alistair recognized the ritual as a simple knowledge spell - basically, the same one he had. The women were planning on cheating on a test...

The group balked when Dan ordered everyone to attack the women. Dan spat back, "Are you kidding me? They're witches - real, evil, and utterly corrupt! Get them!"

The other members of the Sword of Adam attacked the women, cornering them; the study group (we really need a name for you guys) split, half slowing down Dan, and the other half assisting the young women. The attackers went down quickly, but Dan was out for blood. After a rather drawn-out fight, the rest of the Sword of Adam were put down, and Dan was knocked unconscious. Priya spotted his necklace again, and using some tongs, yanked it off his neck. After a little discussion, the group smashed the talisman, destroying the curse.

Gradually coming to, Dan realized just how wrong his actions were, and swore to rectify his actions. In fact, in the coming weeks, he dropped his engineering major in favor of theology, and became a strong campus advocate for peaceful dialog.

During Dead Week, one Professor Henry Jones contacted the group. Knowing they had some talent with the supernatural, he asked that they act as expert witnesses, and back up his story to a potential client, purchasing one Book of Tassqaa. The story he told them went like this:

A book was discovered by a professor of history and acheology, Dr. Havier, hidden within an Arabian desert dig: the Book of Tasqaa. It was recovered with a handful of other artifacts; while the workers at the dig didn't seem to mind the artifacts, the book upset them greatly. They warned the doctor against so much as opening it, let alone reading it. Nonetheless, he dared read the book; he took it to his tent, and poured over the pages. That very night, the crew heard the screams of Dr. Havier; they rushed to his tent to find... nothing. The side of the tent was ripped open, and Dr. Havier was gone. The crew refused to continue work unless the book was returned or destroyed.

Dr. Havier's assistant, Mr. Belack, took the book back to the States, to Boston University. He, too, was warned not to read the book, and for a while he listened. Eventually, however, his curiosity got the better of him, and he decided to read the book. The next morning, another professor came to use the room he was in, and found it locked; eventually, they had to force the door, where they discovered... no one. The book was on the desk, closed; not a trace of Mr. Belack was ever seen again.

The book stayed in the possession of the University for over a decade. During a recent cleaning and renovation, the book was sold, along with many other objects. Dr. Henry happened to be visiting, and purchased the book with his own funds. Unlike the others, he was unwilling to read the book; he understood its dangers.

That said, he had a buyer - a collector from Washington - and Dr. Henry was afraid that he was going to read the book. The visitor was expected the following day, at noon.

Alistair argued strongly against selling the book, suspecting it to be highly dangerous, but Dr. Henry was quite adamant that he would sell it. Finally, unable to convince the man that it was too dangerous to sell, the group relented, and agreed to meet him at an office in the bank building downtown.

The next day, just as the group arrived, there was a terrible crash of a window shattering! Upstairs, they found Dr. Jones and a secretary standing by the door to an office; inside, a chair was tipped over, and the window was broken, the glass fallen outside... but no body.

Alistair railed against the stupidity of allowing someone access to the book at all, eventually pulling a gun on Dr. Jones. He explained that his secretary had buzzed in Mr. Ihkterah, who had spoken with Dr. Henry for a few minutes, then asked for a bottle of water; he turned to grab one, and the man had grabbed the book, opened it, and in an instant was thrown bodily out the window! He muttered, "He was just... but where did he go?"

There was no body outside, obviously; just the broken window. Seemingly, the man had vanished into thin air. Alistair tried reading the book's past, and discerned the origin of the book - or at least a man's hand making it. Priya, sighing heavily, said she didn't really believe in any of that nonsense anyway, and she was going to read the book. She opened it up... and it was blank. Nothing happened to her. Turning, they found Dr. Henry had carefully slipped away; following him to the elevator, they recognized the ring on his finger as the ring on the finger of the man that made the book! As it turned out, the professor had just invented a story, hoping the danger and intrigue would be enough to fetch a high price for the worthless book he had created. Dr. Havier, Mr. Belack, and especially Mr. Ihkterah never existed.

And with that, it was finals. A little extra work was required, but no one failed. Next semester was shaping up to be something rough, though...