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File 163519765057.png - (137.30KB , 406x700 , 14-1.png )
1013588 No. 1013588 ID: de852d

Chapter 14
+18 Adult content

First thread: https://tgchan.org/kusaba/quest/res/860238.html
Wiki: https://tgchan.org/wiki/Moot_Point
Previous chapter: https://questden.org/kusaba/quest/res/990619.html#990619
54 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. Expand all images
No. 1015651 ID: fd0201

Lookin' like you got some eye baggage goin' on there. You been gettin' enough sleep? No trouble's sleepin', I hope. Gettin' enough to eat too? And to drink? Gettin' stuck into your studies and forgettin' to eat or drink'll sneak up on ya.

How've you been gettin' along with your fellow students? They been friendly? Made any friends here yet? Nobody givin' you hasslin' I hope. You gotten hazed yet or is that somethin' that they don't do here? Or are folk kinda standoffish?

You doin' good with your studies? Keepin' up with 'em? Been gettin' extra tutorin' to bring you up to speed and all? Has Gabe been 'round to help teach you a thing or two about Sendin'?
No. 1015753 ID: de852d
File 163755045662.png - (119.51KB , 500x700 , 14-15.png )

Clio yawns and takes another peek at her notes. Through the fog of post study haze, she sighs. Her aptitude for gate magic put her at the head of her class in all but one way.

Her mouth twists wryly as she looks at the scribbled calculations regarding spirit wards. Compared to the complex interactions of distance and momentum built into gate magic, it seems simple: building a volume of mana that blocks spirits from passing through. But for some reason her attempts at spellcasting never result in a stable ward field.

Having spent several hours in a practice room scarred from generations of student magic, the cat feels her mind turning to soup. While her natural mana supplies allowed her much more leeway to practice with, exhaustion from so much calculation eventually set in. Maybe tomorrow she can talk with her teachers about what she’s doing wrong.
No. 1015754 ID: de852d
File 163755046461.png - (134.80KB , 552x700 , 14-16.png )

Still engrossed in her notes, Clio bumps headfirst into someone in the hallway, scattering paper everywhere.
No. 1015755 ID: f8fa51

Hastily apologise and try to pick up your notes while you figure out who you just bumped into.
No. 1015757 ID: 96c896

Time for an anime trope.
No. 1015758 ID: a63e3f

Lightly swear under your breath, then catch yourself and apologize to whoever you collided with as you crouch down to help pick up their papers.
No. 1015890 ID: c0641b


I suspect this was the truth all along. Moot and Hekel forged a pact to end the wars and he voluntarily disappeared, ensuring the Guardians would be able to stop his rivals by stifling the mana wells.


Oh dear, Clio, but I hope you had those numbered.
No. 1016084 ID: be028a
File 163781052554.png - (80.66KB , 700x500 , 14-17.png )

Clio scrambles to pick up the scattered notes, apologizing frantically.

“Shit! Sorry! Sorry! Shit! I’m so sorry!” She claws her papers into a pile and looks up. She blinks at the empty hallway, looking forward and back, finding herself alone.
No. 1016086 ID: e7848c

Oh sweet, ghosts. You're aware of them, right?
No. 1016088 ID: a63e3f

Huh... You sure you ran into someone and not some... invisible surface? Did you feel the touch of skin or fur at all when you collided? Hear a "oof" like you'd expect from a person that's been run into? Could somebody have magic'd a force field across this hall as... I dunno, a prank? Better test if there's something still here.

Scoop the rest of your notes up and stow them in your book, then poke your hand about at about the point you collided with whatever it was. Whether or not you touch anything, pull out a blank piece of paper and wave it about in that volume as well to test if an inanimate object collides with anything or not.
No. 1016102 ID: f8fa51

Wow, you must be more out of it than you thought. You definitely need to take a nap.
No. 1016140 ID: 6c5f9b

Literally walking into the fourth wall is probably not good for your head.
No. 1016157 ID: 2de4fd

What was it that first gave you the impression that it was someone that you bumped into? You're smart, think back a few moments. It might give you something to go on.
No. 1016432 ID: be028a
File 163832810181.png - (103.12KB , 500x700 , 14-18.png )

“Hello?” Clio looks around cautiously, her ears twitching in search of sound. She waves a hand in the direction of the impact, finding nothing there. “Anyone there?” She asks the nothing.

Whatever it was, it felt solid. Clio’s exhausted mind runs through a quick logic chain: Was that a ghost? But ghosts aren’t solid. Or are they? I’ve never touched a ghost. Except for Pezzi and Rufus, I guess. Wait, are they ghosts? They were in mechanical suits. What should I do if I think there’s a ghost around?
No. 1016433 ID: be028a
File 163832811146.png - (136.55KB , 700x500 , 14-19.png )

Clio decides to test things, casting a spirit ward in the hallway. Wavering red light filters out around the edges of the walls, flickering with instability.

The cat tries to hold the spell for as long as she can before it collapses, taking with it a bit more of her energy. Right before it vanishes, she notices an odd hole in the light.
No. 1016436 ID: 908530

Ah yes. A ghost gloryhole.
No. 1016438 ID: e7848c

Okay, you are a cat with an education now. Despite your mind being frazzled, what do you know of warding spells? They're normally solid, correct? Would a hole in the surface be a sign of something coming into contact with it?
No. 1016440 ID: 96c896

Poke where the hole is.
No. 1016443 ID: 36784c

That looks like a doorknob. Try grabbing it and giving it a turn?
No. 1016448 ID: 2de4fd

Is there an invisible object in the hallway? Try feeling around the hole area.
No. 1016507 ID: 6c5f9b

Have some self-preservation instincts and don't touch the magic hole. Maybe there's someone with more experience around who'll be able to investigate it, without risk of losing limbs to residual portal magic?
No. 1016525 ID: 5b0071

Get your bearings: have you actually been down this hallway before/recently?
No. 1016770 ID: be028a
File 163875491881.png - (103.94KB , 556x700 , 14-20.png )

Clio stares at where the hole was, blinking and examining it from various angle. She cautiously reaches out and gropes at the air, finding nothing but air.

“Spite me, what the fuck was that?” She mutters to herself. It looked to her almost as if her warding spell was wrapped around something solid, but invisible. Self doubt creeps into her tired mind like mold, ”Maybe it was something wrong with the spell? I just still can’t get it right…”

Sighing and rubbing her eyes, Clio chalks it up to overworking and late nights. The young sender sets off down the hall again, away from the mystery.
No. 1016771 ID: be028a
File 163875495824.png - (126.58KB , 500x700 , 14-21.png )

Only a minute or so late, as she’s passing the library, she hears a pair of odd, clattering footsteps. Light pours out of an open door as a skeleton steps backwards out of the room and swears, “Oh fucking, litchfire…”
No. 1016772 ID: c0641b


This looks like one hell of a prank, but I'm not sure which of us is on the receiving end.
No. 1016773 ID: 96c896

An intruder? Yell at them.
No. 1016778 ID: a63e3f

Ordinarily a undead skeleton's presence here would be cause for alarm, but with the situation with the bargast and all this one is almost certainly a visitor from there. Probably helping with research, given they were in the library. You ought to be more concerned about whatever has spooked them.

Move at a brisk pace up to the far side of the hall behind them, just up to where you can get a look into the library at whatever they've locked sight with. While you're moving up ask them what's wrong. And be ready to cast because there might be something in there that is menacing them that'll need to be stopped.
No. 1016783 ID: 2de4fd

"Hey, skeleton?? Can you kindly explain what the fuck?"
No. 1016784 ID: 8b1fc0

oh no, what spooked the spooky skeleton? Seems like important information
No. 1016800 ID: 8f128b

Clearly this is a vivid hallucination caused by onset sleep deprivation, and not an actual skeleton in the library, right?
No. 1016810 ID: 9a2966

Say hi to Graves. Remind him you're not Augustine.

Go have a peek at whatever he's surprised by.
No. 1016847 ID: 815672

You've heard of this guy, right? What was it, Graves? Ironic.
No. 1016920 ID: be028a
File 163901420302.png - (198.59KB , 588x700 , 14-22.png )

Clio yelps, falling backwards and dropping her notes again. The skeleton turns suddenly at the noise and stops, its expression difficult to read: the cold light in its eyes focused on her.

“Wh- who are you?” Clio demands.

“I could ask you the same question.” The undead states. “And what is that spell?”

Clio blinks and realizes her hand is extended in front of her protectively, blazing with the sword of light.
No. 1016921 ID: e7848c

Now ask yourself, is this an Open secret or guarded? Either way, state your name
No. 1016930 ID: 2de4fd

Yeah, elaborating on that magic seems like a good idea. But, wait, why was he swearing?
No. 1016937 ID: 076735

Cancel spell and dodge the question about it. Simply give your name and apologise for your overreaction.
No. 1016954 ID: b84796

Him first! What's so scary about that room?
No. 1016962 ID: c0641b


A very tired, very overworked, and very startled student. Since when DID the school have skellies walking the halls? Attending? Teaching?

Should we be running from whatever's in that room?
No. 1017011 ID: 028f23

Tell him the truth, but not the whole truth yet.
I suppose the others had the idea to not immediately spill the beans that we've found proof that Augustine Moot had kids.
So yeah, let him know it's a rare and difficult type of Sender magic that Gabe and the gang are helping you learn to control.
If he presses, say that they think it could help them find where Augustine Moot went, but don't elaborate further after that.
No. 1017068 ID: be028a
File 163919305540.png - (174.87KB , 659x700 , 14-23.png )

Clio’s spell disappears and she blinks away surprise. “M-my name’s Clio. I-I’m just a student. I, uh, I don’t remember the name of the spell. Cleave something…”

She changes the subject hastily, turning the inquiry around. “Sorry, I didn’t know we had a-a skeleton in the library. Um, what’re you doing here?”

The skeleton creaks. “I guess word hasn’t gotten out yet. My name is Graves. I’m a guest here, assisting the college in translating a tome of historical significance.” He looks back into the library and flatly states, “Or, at least… I was, but it seems that it just went missing.”
No. 1017080 ID: 028f23

Oh dear.
No. 1017083 ID: 815672

Missing? As in the book you're reading is gone?
No. 1017093 ID: 2de4fd

Did it get taken out by an invisible person?
No. 1017099 ID: 076735

Immediately mention you bumped against something invisible.
No. 1017103 ID: 9a2966


Like... did someone steal a book? Well, something else weird just happened (obviously, says the mammalian pattern-seeking brain, the two must be related).

Er. Something else weird, aside from the talking skeleton. No offense. Is he (they?) from the Barghest - ah wait, no, focus. Stolen book bad. As in... you think stealing is bad? Not that you would know anything about stealing!

But you didn't steal it. This book. That was stolen.

Can you be of assistance, somehow?

(Continue adorably flustered state, from the fact there's a talking skeleton you haven't met or heard of before and don't the Spirit Guardians usually take care of that?)
No. 1017123 ID: a63e3f

Don't jump to conclusions and think it was stolen. Perhaps Graves was working with a associate and they took the book while he... Er, is Graves' pronouns "he/him?" Get clarification on that. Anyway, they could have taken it while Graves wasn't there. So ask Graves if somebody else was working on this tome with them, why Graves wasn't where they could observe the tome and for how long they weren't there. Also, could it have fallen behind a desk or shelf or something like that? And was Graves out of earshot of any Sender portal portal opening in the room the tome was in? Is the room it was in warded against portals from outside the room?

Actually, this is also rather more than what a sleepy Sender collect student can and should be dealing with. It'd be best to bring in at least one or two more people to help search. Getting whoever Graves was working on the tome with, or whoever is Grave's contact in the collect, would make sense.

Do mention to Graves that while walking down the hall this way you collided with seemingly thin-air and knocked your notes all over. You didn't see anyone or anything to collide with and when you waved your hand through where you collided you didn't touch anything. What's more odd is that when you raised a spirit ward there, it looked like there was a circle shaped hole in it.

...Maybe if it was a magically invisible and sound muffled person fleeing with the tome they collided with you, then stepped back so you didn't touch them when you waved your hand, but they left a hole in the spirit ward where their arm was? Ah, you're speculating too much.

...Are fingerprints a known thing in this world? 'Cause whoever took the tome could have left their fingerprints on the table or shelf the tome was on. Assuming they have fingerprints, of course.
No. 1017365 ID: f57349

Bright lights and exclamations like "fucking lichfire" imply something more urgent than the book simply having been reshelved in the wrong section. What else is missing?
No. 1017443 ID: ce39da

"Izzat what the light show was? A thief?"
No. 1017501 ID: be028a
File 163961875915.png - (110.49KB , 700x524 , 14-24.png )

“Wait, missing? Like you lost it? Or someone took it?” Clio looks back over her shoulder as her mind races.

Graves shrugs and shakes his head a little, “I was reading another book and it was open on the table. When I looked up, it was gone. I didn't notice anyone else enter the room”

“Okay, because I bumped into someone or something invisible just a minute ago.” She points back down the corridor.
No. 1017623 ID: be028a
File 163971209779.png - (84.09KB , 500x700 , 14-25.png )

They head back to the hallway where Clio was knocked over. Clio stoops to pick up one of her notes she missed and notices something: a strange indentation, shaped like an elongated, curvy H. “What the?”
No. 1017647 ID: 96c896

Like someone stepped on it? I guess that's a footprint. Better bring it to someone who's familiar with esoteric magical creatures.
No. 1017652 ID: 30b9f6

Hm... bird's feet, maybe?

Whoever was invisible could be a bird-person. Maybe they've flown the coop, so to speak. Does Clio know of any big windows nearby they could enter and leave through?
No. 1017705 ID: 028f23


w-wait a second.
I don't think that's a bird's footprint.
... I think that's a chameleon's footprint.
That makes sense, I guess, but a chameleon can only camouflage its skin.
Which means we're looking for a....a naked chameleon.


No. 1017709 ID: 96c896

Caught its tail, I'd guess.
No. 1017728 ID: c0641b


But a gate will sever whatever it intersects, and there was neither blood nor any, ah ... "tidbits."

Which means either they managed to counter the gating spell, OR they were never affected by it.
No. 1017730 ID: 815672

Portal Gates intersect. This was a ward, which only pushes ghosts and spirits out of a certain space.
No. 1017753 ID: 96c896

Try to make a ward, but spread it out over a large area so it looks more like fog.
Then if the chameleon is in the ward, we can detect it by the lack of fog in its location.
No. 1017769 ID: be028a
File 163988295451.png - (140.93KB , 700x500 , 14-26.png )

“What do you think this is?” Clio holds up the paper to the skeleton.

Graves looks at it with an expression of blank calcium. “Math?”

“No, what?” She flips around. “Looks like a footprint of some kind.”

“That’s a fairly odd looking foot. I’m not an expert or anything, but I imagine not many people have toes arranged like that. It doesn't look like a bird: there's no talons.” Graves cocks his head. He looks past her and spots Casey returning from her break.
No. 1017776 ID: e7848c

We might have a situation or a poorly timed practical joker.
No. 1017785 ID: 96c896

Say hello to Casey. Graves will probably explain the situation.
No. 1017788 ID: 908530

Clio should go to bed, though.
No. 1017862 ID: 67be32

Graves and Clio, quickly inform Casey of the theft and what you two witnessed and experienced. Clio, show Casey the (presumed) footprint on your notepaper and ask her if she's seen anything like it before that would make such a mark. We think it's a footprint, but it could be from a piece of footwear as well. It'd make some sense that if it was a invisible thief Clio collided with that if their footwear was magically silencing their steps that it'd be some weird shape.
No. 1017880 ID: 8f128b

Hold on, if they can only camoflauge their skin, wouldn't Clio have seen a floating book? It's possible that Clio didn't see the book initially, but after walking into them, it's unlikely she wouldn't notice a book getting up and walking away, especiallly if she caught them in the ward. I think one or more of the following must be correct:

-More than just the thief's skin is camoflauged
-The thief didn't actually have the book, just stashed it somewhere in the room (I like this one)
-The book is inside of the thief (I do not like this one)
No. 1017884 ID: 96c896

The thief could have been holding the book behind them.
No. 1017982 ID: 36784c

Explain the situation to Casey and ask for her help.
No. 1018124 ID: be028a
File 164021747167.png - (139.44KB , 700x500 , 14-27.png )

“Clio? Hey, what’s going on?” Casey blinks in surprise. Picking up on the ex-thief’s anxiety, she asks, “Something wrong?”

“Er… the tome of the First Guardians seems so have been stolen.” Graves explains.

“What?! How!?” Casey’s eyes dart between the two for an explanation.

"I was reading in the library and when I looked up, it had disappeared from the table." Graves points a boney finger at the cat and continues, “What's more: she said that she ran into someone invisible in this hallway a few moments ago.”

“Invisibility? Like magic? Is that even possible?” Casey’s mind reels.

Clio responds timidly, as if reluctant to admit, “Back when I was a thief… There were rumors about methods of turning invisible, but… never any proof. I tried a spirit ward earlier, thinking it was a ghost, and there was a hole in it; like something solid was there. And when we came back, we found this strange footprint.”

“Okay…” Casey recomposes herself. “We need more help on this. Clio, go wake up Mariana and the college staff. Whoever did this couldn’t have gone far. We need as many eyes as possible on the campus.”
No. 1018149 ID: 815672

Sound the alarms!
No. 1018168 ID: 9a2966

Contact others and sound alarming!
No. 1018646 ID: be028a
File 164075206638.png - (144.77KB , 500x700 , 14-28.png )

Clio nods wordlessly and focuses for a moment, mentally plotting out distance and angle. She disappears in a crash of thunder.

She appears outside the apartment shared by Mariana and Ashe, the clap of air shaking the pair from their bed.
No. 1018647 ID: be028a
File 164075207969.png - (108.34KB , 700x500 , 14-29.png )

Mariana peeks through the door a few moments later, squinting at the cat.

“Clio? What? What time is it? What’s wrong?” She asks.
No. 1018651 ID: e7848c

A theft! Graves was reading that text when someone snatched it when he was looking away. Seemed like there was something physical, but invisible.
No. 1018793 ID: dcdd0d

Lay out the importants. Tome of the first guardian is missing, you aren't sure but you think invisibility is involved or something, you tried a spirit ward and it had a hole in it, and now we need at least to make sure whatever took it doesn't manage to escape
No. 1018811 ID: c0641b


Wait, where's the library in relation to exits? They might be hiding somewhere in the (college?) waiting for a chance to slip out, invisibility or no.

We'll need people posted at all entrances and exits, and conduct a sweep of the halls. And, well ... just about anywhere someone could reasonable wedge themselves.
No. 1018812 ID: 36784c

Would having people that are good at using a spirit ward help? We might be able to find where the invisible person is from where the ward is missing like right here: >>1016433
No. 1018866 ID: be028a
File 164091438767.png - (131.46KB , 500x700 , 14-30.png )

“Uh, Casey said to come wake you. There’s a thief, we think- we’re pretty sure. They were using some kind of invisibility magic, but I was able to spot them for a second with a spirit ward. They took a book.” Clio stammers, trying to cram as much information into her sentences as possible. “Uh, the skeleton in the library, Graves, said it was important: said it was connected to the first guardians?”

That seems to wake the guardian up, and she runs her fingers through the crest of feathers on her head anxiously.”Oh-okay, okay. Uh, let me… um. I’ll wake the others.” She nods slightly as she takes on the familiar look of a sender trying to remember a location.

Her hands opens and closes three times in rapid succession, opening and closing a gate. Each cast of the spell is followed by the sound of a bell tolling on campus. She pauses before repeating the process another two times and stops. “Haven’t had to ring that in years. Let me get my robe and I’ll meet you in the main hall with the rest of the staff. We'll get as many wards around the campus as possible and narrow down our search.”
No. 1018881 ID: 815672

Sounds like a story for another time. What now? Return?
No. 1019248 ID: be028a
File 164115893475.png - (136.75KB , 700x500 , 14-31.png )

“Oh-okay!” Clio nods as the Guardian goes back inside to get dressed. A quick gate later and she returns to the library, finding Casey and Graves combing the room over for any clues.

The skeleton stands up triumphantly and holds out a single bony finger. “Ah-ha! They left something behind!”

Casey squints at the find, “Is that… looks like a shed scale?” The tiny translucent circle flaps dangerously as minute air currents threaten to carry it away. The change in angle reveals a strange iridescence that makes it even harder to see. “So we’re definitely dealing with some kind of reptilian visitor then.” She draws her attention away and waves the cat over, “Clio! That was fast! What did Mariana say?”
No. 1019250 ID: e7848c

The alarm is rung and she agrees that we need to get as many eyes as possible. She'll meet us back at the main hall.
No. 1019251 ID: 9a2966

So we'd better get going, yes?

Uh. Will it be okay to bring Graves?
No. 1019253 ID: f8fa51

They want to throw up wards around the campus to try to contain the visitor.
No. 1019325 ID: 2de4fd

Is there, like, magical chameleon magic that would do something like this? Maybe some sort of potion poured on the scales?
No. 1019431 ID: 028f23

Oooh, that's a brilliantly clever alarm system. Damn fine usage of the secondary effects of gating.

Aha! I thought so!

Perhaps a Fae subspecies? There are a number of Fae we have seen so far who resemble other, mortal species, and yet possess some supernatural edge that sets them apart. The eyes of the Leucrocotta, the hide of the Selkie, it wouldn't surprise me if there was a chameoleoline variant of Fae with far more prodigious camouflage than biology alone could manage.
No. 1019713 ID: be028a
File 164143971268.png - (138.88KB , 700x500 , 14-32.png )

“She said that she was going to wake up the staff. They’re going to use wards to try find the thief. She said that they were going to meet in the great hall.” As if on cue, muffled thunderclaps echo around the campus as the members of the Sender College begin to assemble.

“Uh, if its alright with you, I believe I should stay here.” Graves speaks up, “Magical wards around the campus will definitely limit my ability to help.” He shrugs, “Plus, there's the whole walking skeleton thing.”

Casey bites her lip and admits, “Ohhhh yeah. That- yeah. I guess stay here and… uh, examine the scene of the crime?”

“I can do that.” Graves shrugs again, “All this drama when I could be reading…” he grumbles.

“What about you? I seem to recall you’re pretty good at Sender magic.” Casey suggests.

“I- I’m still working on my warding spells.” Clio admits, “They’re not very stable.”

“So?” Casey shrugs, “Do the need to be? They only need to be active for a moment. If you used your ward as a pulse and we’ll be able to track them down.” She glares at the single cast off scale and thinks aloud, “I’m pretty sure that whoever this is, they’re not fae. They have a very specific set of rules about theft, weird as it sounds. To them, theft is less of a crime and more like a performance: they'll often give their target some kind of warning before striking and leave a calling card. Whoever did this was all business.”
No. 1019727 ID: 96c896

Alright time to join the sweepers.
No. 1019812 ID: 815672

Who else knows about this? What other interested parties are there?
No. 1020115 ID: be028a
File 164178382369.png - (134.13KB , 700x500 , 14-33.png )

“ Let’s go, Clio!”

The cat and mouse rush off to the last known position of the thief. Clio concentrates and sends a shimmering wall of magic ahead of them, which fades after a second or two, revealing about 20 ft of empty corridor.

“This is so weird.” She comments.

Casey looks at her quizzically and the cat explains, “I, uh, never thought I’d be helping catch a thief. Fates, that life feels like it was a million years ago.”

“We’re all glad you’ve been helping out!” Casey replies as another wave of red light washes over her.

Clio looks around for any sign of the thief and asks, “Why would someone take that book, anyway? Even rare books don’t really sell for that much.”

“It was written by the first Guardians,” Casey explains, “We’re still translating some of it, but we’re hoping it’ll lead us to finding out more about their roles in the disappearance of an ancient vampire lord. I wish I knew who or why someone would take it though.”

“You mean Madame Moot wrote it? The founder of the college?”
No. 1020129 ID: 96c896

As a former thief, do you know any likely hiding places the target would be in?
No. 1020138 ID: 9e6598

Could they be clinging to walls and roofs to avoid attention?
No. 1020140 ID: 9a2966

Ah, yeah, her some experience in avoiding attention could come in handy her.

Also: a game of cat and mouse with a literal cat and mouse, lol.
No. 1020224 ID: 815672

Oh yeah, we have literally years of thieving experience we could tap into. If you were the thief, where would you go
No. 1020348 ID: be028a
File 164204627192.png - (81.94KB , 500x700 , 14-34.png )

“Since you have the experience, any thoughts on what the thief might do now that they have the book?” Casey asks.

Clio thinks out loud, trying to dredge up memories of another life. “I would usually find a place to lay low, and sneak out when an opportunity arises. I usually only used my gates if things got dicy, because they’re so loud. If the thief can stay invisible for long periods of time, they might just find someplace out of the way and try to blend in with the students once they start crowding around the campus.” She frowns, “Although, I imagine that bell ringing probably put them on edge. If they think we’re on to them, they might make a move sooner rather than later.”

Casey nods in agreement. “You’ve been here for a while; noticed any places someone might lay low?”

“Maybe the cellar? There’s a lot of clutter down there to hide in and almost no one goes down there.”
No. 1020349 ID: 96c896

Worth a shot.
No. 1020355 ID: 9a2966

To the cellars, then!

Maybe get some people on exit overwatch to ensure that our guest won't be able to mix in with ordinary students - or faculty - leaving?

If someone seems new to the campus, they should be (comfortably) detained until someone can vouch for them, the purpose of their visit is clear and they've been verified not to carry the book.

Let's hope our thief didn't have a collaborator that is a student or teacher. Or is one themselves. Have you got any reptilian students on the student or employee roster? With... iridescent scales? Almost figure that'd be too easy, if it was the case, but might be worth asking. Whoever they were they had to have SOME familiarity with the campus and the library in order to know where the book was and that it was under study.
No. 1020418 ID: f57349

If there's more than one way in and out of the cellars, rig up a noisemaker and tripwire on the one you're using, and the old bucket-over-the-door prank on another - but make sure to fill the bucket with something that wouldn't damage the stolen book.
No. 1020443 ID: be028a
File 164222007256.png - (169.68KB , 700x500 , 14-35.png )

“Let’s start with the cellars first, then.” Casey nods, “…er where are they?”

“Just off from the kitchen. This way!” Clio turns and leads them to a large, columned atrium milling with sleepy looking Senders. A central light well shows only a few stars as the night wears on. A spirit ward glows around the edges of the room as one of the magic users focuses on maintaining the spell.

“Hey, you!” Casey grabs the sash on a random Sender. “You doing anything at the moment?”

“Uh-“ the mage blinks groggily, “Guardian Rue-Larrey said there was a theft? We’re supposed to be on lookout.”

“Good, you can come with us. We’re going to check the cellar. I want someone watching the door in case the thief slips past us.”
No. 1020444 ID: be028a
File 164222007837.png - (149.89KB , 700x500 , 14-36.png )

Clio takes them to a rather unassuming door set into the wall next to the larger kitchen entrance. “I peeked down here once when I was first settling in. Old habit, I guess.” She leads the way downstairs, letting the gentle pulse of magic illuminate the darkness.

Small, narrow windows line the edge of the cellar, letting starlight in to give texture to the dark. The rooms, like much of the college, is carved out of the rock itself by magic and supported by thick, coffered pillars. Forgotten boxes of supplies and holiday decorations clutter the corners, while sagging shelves stretch the length of the smooth, stone walls.
No. 1020446 ID: 36784c

From the looks of that bedroll, someone’s been living down here. And that candle is still smoking, which means someone put it out very recently. That person could still be in the room right now!

Cast your spirit ward and see if anything happens!
No. 1020460 ID: 96c896

Pulse a ward.

At this point I'm betting the thief just wanted to read the book, not take it out of the school.
No. 1020480 ID: 815672

A bedroll implies that this person was staking this place out for a while
No. 1020544 ID: f57349

See if you can find a bit of flour or something among the old supplies, scatter a thin layer of it on the floor. One of the few things we know for sure about the magical stealth technique in question is that it doesn't tidy up footprints.
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