Roots

It's the summer of 2017 in small town Virginia. The tranquility the residents take for granted is shaken by disturbing news: Karen Parker is missing. To some she may be a friend or neighbor. To others, a daughter. But regardless of the relation, the investigators set out to bring her home. But ancient evils lurk everywhere, and as the investigators are about to discover, some are very close to home...

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Re: Roots

Postby HelplessBystander » Sat Oct 28, 2017 12:36 am

Tobias scanned the room generally, ignoring the boy band posters, the weird gadgets and fancy gizmos that he doesn't understand and planned to search for clues hidden in the room using the good-ol'-fashioned way. He'll probably have a look at the bar Spotlight after investigating the camp.

Spoiler:
HelplessBystander rolled 1d100:
18
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Re: Roots

Postby Mr. Handy » Sat Oct 28, 2017 3:42 am

Image

"Thank you," says Catherine. "I'll do my best." She heads back upstairs and into Karen's room. It is more important to find her than to worry whether it is appropriate for her to search the room, especially since she isn't even currently her teacher now that the school year is over. She goes over to the computer and moves the mouse to wake it up, then looks through the files and browser history.

Spoiler:
Library Use roll (65% skill) searching the computer:
Mr. Handy rolled 1d100:
49
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Re: Roots

Postby Silver Priest » Sat Oct 28, 2017 5:55 am

Cotton:

Daniel arrives at the campgrounds around 6:30. It's a small area, with a shower block and some picnic tables and chairs set up nearby. The tends of the campers are set up in a small field on the edge of the woods, and a gravel parking lot allows entry into the campground. There's only one other vehicle in the lot at the time Daniel arrives,a camper van that he estimates could seat maybe a dozen people.

Daniel spies four teens huddled around the campground (three boys and a girl) and one parent. Kim Hodge approaches, her pretty features creased with worry.

Officer Parker, I'm glad you're here. I am so, so sorry. As soon as Ali came back and told us about the fight I sent my husband Graham out to search the woods for her, to see if she made it to the bus stop. Steve Taylor, one of the boys, went with him, and they've yet to come back. From talking to him on the phone though they haven't found anything yet.

“Again I'm so sorry. I love Karen, I hope to god she's alright
.” she seems pretty close to tears.


***

Tobias finds what he sees is largely what he gets. There are no hidden diaries, no drugs stashed under the bedframe. He's nearly given up on finding anything when he opens one of Karen's books and finds a letter stashed inside. The envelope is gone, and with it the address and information, but he's able to read it.

Spoiler:
I've wanted to write to you for so long. My name is Joy, and I'm your real mother.

I'm sure you may have conflicted feelings about me. Perhaps you may even hate me. I don't begrudge you for it. I was unprepared to raise you, and I had to give you up for adoption only a few weeks after you were born. It was the hardest decision of my life, and not a day goes by when I don't wish I had chosen differently.

I hope you are happy in Paradise Falls. I live in Geverlon. We're a small town, a few hours away. I wish that I could see you on your upcoming birthday. Oh, 18th is so exciting for a girl! I know mine was. I've so much to tell you, if you want to hear it, but unfortunately I'll be unable to see you. I'm not even sure your adopted family would allow it. They may not wish for us to meet.

Enclosed is a photograph of me. A girl should know what her mother looks like. I hope you will write back, but I understand if you don't. Geverlon is such a friendly community; I wish you had been raised here. You would have loved it, I'm sure.

All my love,

Joy


There is no photo enclosed with the letter.

OOC:   Tobias can make a psychology roll.  


***

Catherine finds little interesting in Karen's files, but she does not delete her browser history. There are several sites the girl has bookmarked. She has a blog on tumblr, but a quick glance shows it's not been updated since March. Most of the posts seem to be reblogs of various art, but a few do seem to be personal accounts of her life. It's fairly generic, and nothing here seems unusual.

The second site bookmarked is her email, but it requires a password that Catherine does not have.

Several yotuube videos are marked of a singer called Scarlet Swimmer. If the pair of investigators exchange notes, they discover this performer was featured on the Starlight Flier.

Karen also has a Facebook account,and is luckily still logged in. She's far more active on here, and a quick glance at her friends list indicates that most of them are students Catherine knows well. It may be a bit uncomfortable for the teacher to go through the private messages between her students, but she has little choice. It takes some time, but Catherine discovers that Karen was a popular girl, and frequently attending invites to events held within town, most notably at the Starlight bar. This upcoming week though she has refused all invites, and a post on one of her friend's walls she offers a cryptic explanation of expecting to be busy for a few days.

Karen seems to message a circle of four or five friends near exclusively. Ali Hodge is one of them, but Catherine also recognizes Max Jenson. If she recalls, he lives right next door. He's a sweet enough kid, if a bit awkward. It also is pretty evident in his messages that he has a thing for Karen, though she either misses this or chooses to ignore it. None of the messages to Max or Ali turn up anything too suspicious, though Karen does tell Ali in her last message that she needs to talk to her about “something, like, super important.”

The only other thing of note is a few searches for the town of Geverlon in Google Maps and the like.
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Re: Roots

Postby HelplessBystander » Sat Oct 28, 2017 8:39 am

Tobias reeled from shock as he struggled this new information. True, the orphanage had never disclosed the biological parents' name, but he hadn't thought much about it then. The same couldn't be said right now. His instinct is telling him that something is amiss, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it. The tone of the message felt somewhat...off.

Spoiler:
HelplessBystander rolled 1d100:
24

OOC:   I feel like it would make more sense to use Forensic Science here rather than psychology. Besides, Tobias was an expert on Forensic Document Analysis, wouldn't it make more sense for his first instincts to be to check the validity of the handwriting and attempt to identify whether it was forged by a man first rather than trying to guess the intent of the writer first? :D  
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Re: Roots

Postby Mr. Handy » Sat Oct 28, 2017 4:52 pm

Image

Catherine lets Tobias know what she has found and looks at the maps of Geverlon. "I have no idea what her interest in this place is," she says, "but she may have gone there. We could try guessing her email password. It could have something to do with Scarlet Swimmer."
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Re: Roots

Postby HelplessBystander » Sun Oct 29, 2017 2:47 am

Tobias shrugged. “Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, I don’t know much about these fancy computers, I barely knew how to use a satellite phone, much less be capable of offering you help in this matter, miss Catherine, but have you tried entering any combination of Karen’s birthday into it? I imagine there’s a possibility of Karen using a weak password. I think that Geverlon may be a significant location to keep in mind, she might’ve gone off to find her biological parents there, but I don’t necessarily believe that she would do this in the middle of a camping trip.”

He sighed deeply. “She should’ve told me. I mean, I would’ve certainly approved of her going off as long as she knows when to play it safe. I thought she trusted us.”
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Re: Roots

Postby Mr. Handy » Sun Oct 29, 2017 3:04 am

Image

"Biological parents?" says Catherine. "I never knew she was adopted."
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Re: Roots

Postby HelplessBystander » Sun Oct 29, 2017 3:16 am

Tobias winced. “Well, it was long time ago, and there’s a pretty complicated story behind it. After this thing blows over, I might talk about it, but now’s probably not a good time to discuss it.”
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Re: Roots

Postby Mr. Handy » Sun Oct 29, 2017 4:19 am

Image

"It's the best lead we have right now," says Catherine. "Do you know their address?" She tries Scarlet Swimmer and variations on it as the password, in the hopes that she can get into the email account.
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Re: Roots

Postby HelplessBystander » Sun Oct 29, 2017 4:38 am

“Unfortunately, I don’t.” Tobias said regretfully.
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Re: Roots

Postby Silver Priest » Sun Oct 29, 2017 4:47 am

Spoiler:
OOC:   Note on Karen's adoption,

The Parkers adopted all three of their children, though it's unlikely most would know this without asking. Tobias and Daniel know that all three adoptions were sealed, meaning that neither the adopted or biological families would know anything about the other, including names.  


Tobias can discern that the writer was most likely a woman, probably middle age from the calligraphy.

There is something off about the letter though. The writing itself... Tobias can't be sure, but it seems a bit unusual, as if the letter writer was stressed in some way, or possibly disturbed. In addition, the wording seems intentionally designed to pique Karen's interest in Geverlon and her family there.

Catherine's hunch pays off, and Scarlet Swimmer opens Karen's email. Most of it seems fairly standard, but a recent correspondence with the New Hope Adoption agency catches her eye. They seem to have responded to an earlier email from Karen, and tell her that unfortunately due to the nature of her adoption, they cannot disclose the name or location of her birth family without her adopted family's permission. Checking her outbox indicates that Karen had sent the agency a request a few weeks ago and asked them to tell her if “Joy” was her birth mother.
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Re: Roots

Postby HelplessBystander » Sun Oct 29, 2017 8:24 am

Over many years of working as a private investigator, Tobias was almost entirely certain that this message was designed in such a way that Karen was baited there. The nature surrounding Karen’s adoption led to him to a more pressing question, how did ‘Joy’, if that’s really the woman’s name, ever manage to locate Karen without directly consulting the adoption agency? Miss Catherine, say, how do you feel about a quick trip to Geverlon? I’ll pack a few thing and we’ll head off as soon as possible.”

He walked off, planning to pick up his Glock pistol and the emergency cash that he had stashed in his room in case things go awry. He tapped his fingers nervously over The Talisman, which he had sewn onto a cheap leather wallet filled with generic and excessively florid patterns in an attempt to disguise the true nature of the thing.
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Re: Roots

Postby Mr. Handy » Sun Oct 29, 2017 8:50 pm

Image

"That sounds like the logical next step," says Catherine. "We'll let Paul and Rachel know what we found and then go."
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Re: Roots

Postby HelplessBystander » Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:22 pm

Tobias nodded in agreement and headed downstairs.
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Re: Roots

Postby Silver Priest » Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:40 am

Actually, it occurs to the team of investigators that neither of them really know where Geverlon is. Thankfully Karen had been looking the town up in google maps, so they're able to easily look it up. Geverlon appears to be a small and insular community of less than 1000 people. It's based around a central road and town square, with a patchwork of small, orderly farm fields, surrounded on all sides by acres of woodland, and connected to the world outside the woods by only one road that runs to it and a river than flows nearby. Interestingly, the campsite Karen was at with her friends is only a few hours away from Geverlon. There seems to be a bus line that runs from the campsite down the route Geverlon is located on, but there's no direct path to reach the town. It's located on a side road off the main route through the woods.

Karen's parents are somewhat devastated by this update.

"I don't understand," says Rachel. "How did this 'Joy' find Karen? And where does she get off communicating with her behind our backs?"

"At least we know Karen was not abducted." Paul says.

"No, we don't know that. I don't trust this woman. What does she want with our daughter? Dad, Catherine, I'm sorry to ask this, but could you please go out to Geverlon and find Karen? These woods are very remote, and I've only heard of Geverlon in passing. I just worry about her, being on her own. Oh Karen, why didn't you talk to us..." she sobs softly.

OOC:   Do you want to stop at the campsite first and interview the people there, or will you be attempting to head straight to Geverlon?  
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Re: Roots

Postby Mr. Handy » Mon Oct 30, 2017 4:11 am

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"Of course we'll go to Geverlon to look for her," says Catherine. "We'll stop by the campsite on the way and see if anyone there knows anything about it, and we can also pick up Daniel. Having a Sheriff's Deputy along will help."
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Re: Roots

Postby Cotton » Mon Oct 30, 2017 4:55 am

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Daniel tries his best to console Kim, "Dont you worry Mrs. Hodge, you know how teenagers are she's most likely just run off to a friend's house to blow off steam. If you could though, I'd like you to call your husband and tell him and that boy to head on back here. We don't need anyone wandering around in the dark." While Kim Hodge does that Daniel will start interviewing each of the teenagers separately. He'll start with Ali, and ask her to recount the events leading up to her fight with Karen and the fight itself. He also take notes on his phone in his personal shorthand.
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Re: Roots

Postby HelplessBystander » Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:52 am

Tobias nodded. Catherine’s right. In a situation like this, it is a very good idea to have a sheriff with us in case we need to help from the Law Enforcement. Besides, you can’t fear what you already know.”

He had packed up items that he plans to take along with him and, from the looks of it, it would be a good time as any to leave.
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Re: Roots

Postby Silver Priest » Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:46 pm

Receiving instruction seems to bring Kim out of the panic she finds herself in. Nodding, she pulls out her cell and gives her husband a call. They'll be back shortly.

Daniel approaches the teens, who introduce themselves as Max, Bill, Gordon, and Ali. He starts with Ali.

“I can't really tell you much. The boys and dad were playing football, but we got tired and went for a walk. Things were okay but then Karen, she just started accusing me of all sorts of things! She said I was flirting with other guys but she knows I've been going out with Gordon for over two years! I kinda called her a bitch, and she got mad and stormed off, saying she was taking the bus home. I was pretty pissed so I came back and told my mom, and we assumed she went home. Then my mom called the Parker's to check up on her, and we learned she never arrived.”

It's around this time Tobias and Catherine's car pulls into the campsite. It's just after seven now, and the sky is getting dark.

OOC:   You're all together once again, and can fill each other in on what you learned. Kim Hodge is around, as are four of the five teens along on the trip. Daniel is currently finishing up his interview with Ali.

Speaking of Daniel, he can make a psychology roll.  
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Re: Roots

Postby HelplessBystander » Tue Oct 31, 2017 3:22 am

Tobias hobbled out of the car. It's been a long time since he had ridden one of those things, most of places he usually needed to go to are within walking distance. He prepared to exchange information with Daniel as he looked around the campsite and tried to see if he could retrace Karen's activities around the campsite, identify if there's any additional footprints that does not belong to the camp group, and to find some more answers.

Spoiler:
HelplessBystander rolled 1d100:
7
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