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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
Expand all images
>>
No. 1013590 ID: de852d
File 163519773160.png - (142.42KB , 563x700 , 14-2.png )
1013590

Casey taps her pen against her notepad, her gaze caught somewhere in the middle distance. Her mind should be translating looping fey poetry into more common mortal tongues. Instead its produced half a page of scribbles and crossed out passages.

“Hey Casey, something wrong?” Says a voice.
>>
No. 1013593 ID: 75c709

Just feeling a bit burnt out on this, not making much progress.
>>
No. 1013594 ID: 094652

"How do I translate a paradoxical statement?"
>>
No. 1013595 ID: 9a2966

Oh, you know. Haven't fucked a god in a while, Graves.

Oh sure, there's the undead army about to wake up hungry and snackish, where the only recourse seems to be to use a once-in-a-lifetime trip (to be determined when) to go fetch enough mana to sate them until you can dig up the true location of yon lost lord of the dead so that he can, hopefully maybe, help resolve this mess.

And you really need to decode your third of this critical book that might clue you into his location and... really, why'd Tuvara-Malli go and have such penmanship to her? You're pretty much spoiled for life as regards poetry. It's... even getting a bit stale? KINDA? Which you wouldn't expect of words of otherworldly wonder and imaginings within a language built for such, but hey, isn't that just the way of mortals. Attention span of a gnat and oft compared to such.

...bleh. You're just not feeling the spirit of discovery today, you suppose. Might have to take a break soon.
>>
No. 1013596 ID: 3ed3c3

>>1013590
"Well, it turns out that fey take what they say very seriously. Not surprising, considering how important names and wording are to them. In short, trying to translate fey script, which places more emphasis on meaning than what's actually written, is fucking hard."
>>
No. 1013597 ID: 998426

>>1013590
I'm guessing we're still on the boat...
>>
No. 1013729 ID: ffac61

Flip out! You were alone and the door was locked.
>>
No. 1013734 ID: 30b9f6

>>1013597
Bookshelves in the background, so I think we're in the library.
>>
No. 1013755 ID: de852d
File 163538338315.png - (170.30KB , 577x700 , 14-3.png )
1013755

“Its nothing… its just… this thing is a poem, a legal document, and a training manual. Untangling it is a mess. Every line has several meanings that needs to be cross referenced with previous passages, and I’m just feeling burnt out.” Casey sighs.

Graves nods with a clatter. “I’m always amazed to find a mortal that has any stomach for fey poetic contracts. They’re beautiful, sure, but in the way a tree growing or a glacier moving is beautiful.” He grins, having little other option, and sets down a hefty stack of books on the table.
>>
No. 1013781 ID: 3ed3c3

How difficult is fey language? Let me give you an example.
If I said to you, "The curtains are blue," then you would understand that I'm saying that the curtains are blue.
In fey speak, everything said or written has, at the very least, three different meanings. So, if a fey said, "The curtains are blue," they could mean that the house is full of sadness or that someone's hair is blue or that someone spilled the paint.
It all gets wrapped up in context, metaphor, cultural references, and the feys' obsession with complexity.
>>
No. 1013783 ID: dca4d6

>>1013755
Perhaps there's a device or artifact out there that can make these deciphering efforts significantly quicker and easier.

A "fae cipher" if you will.
>>
No. 1013787 ID: 815672

Well said, Graves
>>
No. 1013805 ID: 9a2966

So how's HIS progress coming along?
>>
No. 1013871 ID: de852d
File 163555544137.png - (182.92KB , 643x700 , 14-4.png )
1013871

“I mean, you kind of have to have a magically extended lifespan to appreciate fey poetry.” Casey nods glumly. “Like, take this line for instance: The sun which rises on land of golden grain. Gold, which wrapped in amber did spirits become. Amber, stone bled from wood. Wood, its twisting root did turn its key, opening stone.

Casey looks over her notes and shifts the puzzle pieces together, “This seems to be referencing Tuvara-Malli’s own auramancy spell, which was like amber or crystal. But its also referencing things like the sun, gold, roots, stone: the fey draw power from those things and part of a contract is listing off their natural allegiances. Its her way of calling on different magical aspects she wants to wield: strength, light, growth, sealing.”
>>
No. 1013872 ID: de852d
File 163555544977.png - (138.69KB , 576x700 , 14-5.png )
1013872

Casey points to the “Its also a way of establishing her right to wield magic, kind of like showing her credentials. The more powerful a magic user, the more sources of magic they’ll list.” She sighs, “A lot of fey legal battles are just lengthy pissing matches trying to call upon as many allegiances as possible.”

Graves cocks his head at the mouse, clearly curious. “But you and me can’t form allegiances like that. We don’t talk to rocks and forests.”
>>
No. 1013879 ID: 96c896

You do have some friends in high places though. Several fey, a god, and the current spirit guardians.
>>
No. 1013893 ID: 3ed3c3

"Well, I'm technically speaking to the dead right now. So that's something."
>>
No. 1013894 ID: 769845

Don't you? You can persuade the air to carry you. Can't magic be considered as a way of communicating with the world? Also you did fuck someone who's part of the sky, so.
>>
No. 1013914 ID: 094652

"Well, you can't make a lengthy negotiation with a rock. You can't shake hands with a cephalopod. But you can pick up a stone. You can feed a fish. Things like that, and those who claim to speak for them, however true that may be."
>>
No. 1013918 ID: 815672

Mortals are gone sooner sure, but you have to admit we make use of our time. Our lives are a story of the connections we make.
>>
No. 1014042 ID: de852d
File 163581134743.png - (161.26KB , 666x700 , 14-6.png )
1014042

“Right… well, normally, yes.” Casey says, thinking about the night spent with Flashing Feathers that gifted her with wing spells etched into her shoulders. “For a long time it was considered impossible for non-fey to wield. Tuvara-Malli found a way to make contracts with oneself, which allowed her to teach fey magic to mortals. Its not as powerful as true fey spellcasting, but it was revolutionary.”

“Very impressive.” The skeletal ghoul nods sagely. “Never really understood how magic worked, to be honest. Lord Hekal made it all seem so easy. He could pick it apart like a clock and put it back together without missing a tick of the second hand.”
>>
No. 1014044 ID: 96c896

Too bad we can't show Hekal the book.
>>
No. 1014069 ID: 3ed3c3

To find Hekal, we need to think like Hekal.
>>
No. 1014093 ID: 30b9f6

>>1014042
You speak as if he could pick up new magics at the drop of a pin. Now why was that, I wonder? Natural talent combined with the acquired skill of ages? Or did he somehow enhance his own capabilities, like the fey would when calling on natural allegiances?

Maybe - in line with your clock analogy - he had power over time... or maybe his own perception of it? That sure would be helpful to be able to take all the time one needed to understand something.

(Tap the book meaningfully, wistfully.)

At any rate, Hekal's abilities and his true story remains little known. If you weren't so busy trying to translate the book before the, um, deadline, you'd be interviewing Graves for historical details day in and day out. It's certainly become clear there was a lot more to the histories of Augustine's time than what survived.
>>
No. 1014105 ID: c0641b

>>1014042

Interesting turn of phrase, but then, Lord Hekal was a fey himself, and doubtlessly had an innate understanding of magic.

But perhaps Graves can give us more insight, having known him so closely for, oh ... centuries.
>>
No. 1014175 ID: de852d
File 163598720752.png - (156.89KB , 461x700 , 14-7.png )
1014175

“How did Hekal get so powerful?” Casey ponders.

Graves shrugs, “No one really knows. His life before becoming a vampire lord is a complete mystery. Much of his raw power came from mana wells, but he preferred to wield it like a tool, rather than a cudgel.”

Casey eyes the skeleton curiously. “Then, did you know him well?”

The undead thinks for a moment and admits, “For as closely as I worked with him, I can’t say really knew the man. I don’t know if anyone truly can. He was dour and serious; distant to everyone, even his closest allies. Talking to him felt like you were interrupting some vast, dangerous calculation he was attempting to solve. While I owe him for returning me to life after death, to him… as far as I can tell, I was just useful.”
>>
No. 1014197 ID: 028f23

An intriguing figure. He seems devoid of outright charisma and yet he commanded the devout loyalty of thousands, if not more. The impression we have seen of his people does not match the legacy of a dour and withdrawn man. He seems to have been more passionate about research than rhetoric.

I'd wager then, that his actions were what earned their loyalty, and perhaps belied something of his true character.

A man that utterly dedicated to his studies and yet still principled must have had some overarching goal. Something that drove him further than the arrogance and thirst for life of the other lich lords. Whatever that was may be the key to discovering what happened to him and Augustine.
>>
No. 1014245 ID: ab33cc

Must've been fun at parties.
>>
No. 1014268 ID: f78c68

>>1014175
Nevertheless he inspired a fierce loyalty in his followers. As vampire lords go he did not seem unstable and his goals seemed admirable.

How DID he and Augustine come to blows? Over what? Just the mana vents? Prejudice? What a mystery.
>>
No. 1014451 ID: de852d
File 163632175651.png - (155.98KB , 700x386 , 14-8.png )
1014451

Casey taps her pen on her notebook, “He was distant and cold, yet every one we’ve met from his kingdom is still fiercely loyal, even after hundreds of years. How did he manage that?”

“Despite how he sounds, Hekal was skilled at diplomacy. He could be straightforward and blunt, but treated everyone with respect, regardless of rank. He recognized people for their abilities rather than their status and sought out the talent he needed to run his empire. For instance, he recruited Rodwin as his second in command, despite his status as a devil. Or, take me for example…”

Graves opens up one of the books and starts turning pages one at a time, lingering only long enough to glance at each one. “I was a soldier at first and a pretty bad one at that, but I can remember everything I’ve experienced: right down to the smallest detail. It was just a parlor trick: telling you what the weather was like the day you were born, or reading a whole book in less than a minute. But he noticed my gift and I became his living ledger: everything that needed counting or remembering went through me.”
>>
No. 1014452 ID: e7848c

Casey, Graves could probably fill a library with just his memories. There's your energy boost for the day.
>>
No. 1014468 ID: a4cda2

>>1014451
For the hell of it, see if there's anything on an anti-bargast weapon in those memories, just in case.
>>
No. 1014475 ID: b5c538

Wow what? Maybe you should add that to your introduction. Especially to a history buff. Although I suppose you didn't tell him that about you either.
>>
No. 1014477 ID: 3ed3c3

Could Graves perhaps give us any information about Hekal that could help with our search? Where was he the day Hekal Disappeared?
>>
No. 1014749 ID: de852d
File 163660388165.png - (118.17KB , 500x700 , 14-9.png )
1014749

Casey stares at the scribe and puts her pen down. “Wait, you remember everything? Why are you just telling us now? There’s so much we need to ask you!”

There’s a bony shrug, which clatters. “No one really asked. Besides, I don’t know how much help I can be. The truth is, it took some time for anyone to realize Hekal had gone missing. It wasn’t unheard of for our lord to disappear and engage in matters of secrecy. It wasn’t until Rodwin returned that anyone knew for sure that Hekal was gone.”

“Come on, there has to be something.” Casey stands and paces, “Like, what happened the night of the disappearance?”

“I believe on the night in question: I went to bed having memorized the correspondence from two of the converging fronts on the Whittaker Plains, as well as the intercepted orders from the third battalion of cavaliers under sir Thorall Krojen. His troops were in retreat and looking to rejoin the larger allied forces, having been routed by archers attacking from the Great Carrion Woods.”
>>
No. 1014939 ID: 028f23

So nothing immediately helpful, but he perhaps had a better understanding of the ongoing war than anyone else at the time, let alone still "alive".
Was the war just more jostling between Vampires/Liches/Necromancers? Or was there something more substantial on the line? I presume that Augustine was largely an unknown at that point, and simply infiltrated the citadel without actually assaulting it. Considering that Hekal's polity was fully mobilized for war at the time, I doubt she could've reached the throne room by force without the alarm having been raised.
>>
No. 1015143 ID: f57349

Okay, back to basics. Potential jackpot of intel here. Gotta prioritize.

Fetch a world map with grid coordinates, along with a historian or astronomer or some other timeline reference. Figure out exactly where and when Hekal was last seen, and any available context of what he and/or his known associates or enemies were up to in that general vicinity. Then start plotting the barghast's subsequent travels, a list of places to rule out as already thoroughly searched.
>>
No. 1015265 ID: de852d
File 163702452919.png - (128.38KB , 500x700 , 14-10.png )
1015265

“Hmm. So, not a lot of obviously helpful information, but you’re probably one of the best resources we have about the ongoing war at the time.” Casey continues, “What sides were involved? Was it just vampire lords?”

“It was a very fluid situation. There were at least five major factions, but alliances and betrayals were common, so its hard to really pin down the exact numbers. At the time, Lord Hekal was attempting to fend off an alliance of three Fey Courts, as well as the machinations of Telleremenas, vampire lord of the Smoking Pit.”

“Considering all the the conflict, do you think Augustine could have gotten into the throne room without raising any alarms?” Casey asks.

Graves pauses, “Now that I’ve seen the magic your senders use firsthand, I’ve had to wonder about that. Gating directly to our lord’s chambers would require a fairly intimate knowledge of the castle. The whole compound was warded against scrying, and gate magic leaves a trace of thunder once its used: scouting out the location on her own would have been nearly impossible without being noticed. So…”
>>
No. 1015281 ID: e7848c

She must have had help on the inside
>>
No. 1015331 ID: d43396

>>1015281
Or access to someone (prisoner?) who knew the layout.
In fact, who was the architect? Did anyone known for remarkable memory visit the castle, even before the war?

Another possibility would be that a prisoner had been brought to the castle, and used as a teleport homer.
>>
No. 1015334 ID: 30b9f6

>>1015265
Another obvious question: What happened in the aftermath of Hekal's disappearance? How did all the wars get resolved and Augustine's faction end up on top of it all?
>>
No. 1015368 ID: 028f23

Huh. An interesting point.
How do we follow up on that? We can hardly go around waking up every revenant on the Barghest asking them if they betrayed the trust of their liege lord centuries ago.
We have so many pieces and no idea how they fit together yet. We need a lead.
>>
No. 1015471 ID: de852d
File 163720604248.png - (139.84KB , 700x500 , 14-11.png )
1015471

“Then that means she had help from the inside…” Casey finishes. “Someone gave her info on where to gate. Any idea who?”

Graves shrugs, his bones clattering against one another. “No idea! There’s only a few that would even have access to our lord’s chambers, and they’re all fiercely loyal.”

“What happened to the war after Hekal went missing?” Casey asks.

The undead stares off into the distance, as if watching history unfold inside his skull. “Rodwin had us pull our forces back and consolidate them. The vacuum left on the battlefield allowed two of the fey factions to pour into the gap, and immediately turn on one another.” Their bones sag as they shake their head. “Several of our generals took off on their own, joining allies and enemies. It was a whirlwind of magic and betrayal. Its kind of a miracle the world held together through it.”

“Rodwin believed that our lord was somehow still alive. Our remaining forces defended our lands for as long as they could: and when defeat seemed inevitable, he took our last bargast and marched north to lands so cold and blighted no one would follow.”
>>
No. 1015473 ID: 769845

The lord's chambers... could it have been someone who used to have access to them? A former friend, even an ex-lover? Not to be indelicate or disrespectful, but is there any chance Hekal had some... secret relationships, in the past?
>>
No. 1015482 ID: ab33cc

So what faction is considered to have "won" in the end? Is the war even considered to be over?
>>
No. 1015501 ID: 028f23

Perhaps it may be even closer than that.
If noone but a trusted few had access to Hekal's quarters, and we know that Augustine was perhaps the most accomplished Sender in history, is it possible they may have collaborated, parlayed, or met at some prior point? Before it all went sour and they evidently became enemies?
Rodwin had obviously never seen her before, but Hekal had been a power for some time before he was cursed and taken in, if he had known the previous Warden.

Augustine may have been illiterate and from poor roots, but as we've seen from Graves, that didn't stop Hekal from considering or valuing those with potential and drive. Is it possible that she wasn't simply working her way through a list of vampire lords and necromancers? Might there have been a previous interaction between the two?


Our understanding of both individuals basically begins and ends with their most noteworthy achievements. Their lives before that are utterly blank. Heck, even after.

It's probably not something he would have shared, but was Hekal's age something Graves would know?
>>
No. 1015584 ID: de852d
File 163737875553.png - (143.11KB , 700x500 , 14-12.png )
1015584

“We know some of what happened next: the end of the Wild Age left the world in chaos. Major conflicts tore the world apart until the First Guardians sealed the mana wells and cut off the flow of dangerous magic.” Casey nods. “It would be good to get some more specifics, if possible.”

“I can only tell you so much about that.” Graves shrugs again. “I spent much of the last five hundred years in a tomb with no body.” He pats the pile of books, “In fact, I was going to skim as much as I can, so that I have plenty of reading material when I’m re-interred.”

“You know, you’re here to work on translating the tome, not brush up on reading.” Casey’s lip twists at the corner.

“I’m working on it!” The undead insists, “Its all up here…” He taps his skull again.

“If you say so.” Casey stretches and jiggles some feeling back into her legs. “I’m going to go get some air.” She announces.

“Seeing as I no longer need such things, I’ll remain here.” Graves goes back to turning pages without looking at her.
>>
No. 1015585 ID: de852d
File 163737876550.png - (145.62KB , 544x700 , 14-13.png )
1015585

The mouse rolls her eyes and steps out into the corridor. Her footsteps echo against the precisely cut stone floor of the Sender library, tracing her way through the labyrinth of the college. She passes the occasional student, hurrying this way and that from some late-night errand.

Casey steps out onto the hillside and leans against the guardrail overlooking the lights of the city. Above her, the statue of Augustine looms in the night sky, her back turned and silent. Her mind flashes to thoughts of Madam Moot and Hekal locked in combat. Or…

“What if… there was no fight?” She says to herself.
>>
No. 1015586 ID: de852d
File 163737879845.png - (123.13KB , 500x700 , 14-14.png )
1015586

Elsewhere in the College of the Senders, Clio hurries back to her dorm from a study session.
>>
No. 1015587 ID: 815672

How goes the studies?
>>
No. 1015594 ID: f8fa51

>>1015586
You look tired. Time to get home and drop into bed, huh?
>>
No. 1015609 ID: 2de4fd

Girl have you been running yourself ragged over there? You look like you need sleep. Or at least a relaxing massage for a few hours.
>>
No. 1015621 ID: 5ea209

>>1015585
Hekal did, in fact, trust Hekal...

>>1015586
I know College Face when I see it. At least it seems things are going well
>>
No. 1015624 ID: 4e2458

>>1015586
What’s the hurry? Got plans?
>>
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 )
1015753

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 )
1015754

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

>>1015585

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.

>>1015754

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

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 )
1016432

“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 )
1016433

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

>>1016433
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

>>1016433
Poke where the hole is.
>>
No. 1016443 ID: 36784c

>>1016433
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

>>1016433
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 )
1016770

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 )
1016771

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

>>1016771

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

>>1016771
oh no, what spooked the spooky skeleton? Seems like important information
>>
No. 1016800 ID: 8f128b

>>1016771
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

>>1016771
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 )
1016920

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

>>1016920

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 )
1017068

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.
Oh dear.
>>
No. 1017083 ID: 815672

>>1017068
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

>>1017099
This.

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 )
1017501

“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 )
1017623

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

>>1017623
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

>>1017623
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

>>1017623
>>1017647
>>1017652

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.

>>1016433

Hmmmmmmmmmmm.
>>
No. 1017709 ID: 96c896

>>1017705
Caught its tail, I'd guess.
>>
No. 1017728 ID: c0641b

>>1017709

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

>>1017728
Portal Gates intersect. This was a ward, which only pushes ghosts and spirits out of a certain space.
>>
No. 1017753 ID: 96c896

Idea:
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 )
1017769

“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

>>1017769
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

>>1017705
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

>>1017880
The thief could have been holding the book behind them.
>>
No. 1017982 ID: 36784c

>>1017769
Explain the situation to Casey and ask for her help.
>>
No. 1018124 ID: be028a
File 164021747167.png - (139.44KB , 700x500 , 14-27.png )
1018124

“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 )
1018646

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 )
1018647

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

>>1018647
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

>>1018793

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 )
1018866

“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 )
1019248

“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

>>1019248
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

>>1019250
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

>>1018866
Oooh, that's a brilliantly clever alarm system. Damn fine usage of the secondary effects of gating.

>>1019248
Aha! I thought so!

>>1019325
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 )
1019713

“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

>>1019713
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 )
1020115

“ 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

>>1020115
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

>>1020129
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 )
1020348

“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 )
1020443

“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 )
1020444

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

>>1020444
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.
>>
No. 1020594 ID: c0641b

>>1020444

Guess we aren't the only one who has been poking around down here.

Cleo should use her ward from near the door, while Casey remains nearby. Once clear, poke around in the storage boxes for any that look recently disturbed, in case they tried to ditch the book to come back for it later.
>>
No. 1020619 ID: be028a
File 164246197624.png - (161.34KB , 700x500 , 14-37.png )
1020619

Clio pulses her warding spell and something clatters among the shelves. The pair turn and glare at the telltale movement intently.
>>
No. 1020620 ID: a9af05

>>1020619
They're hanging from the ceiling above where that box fell! Casey, grab them with your tentacle magic (or whatever it's proper name is supposed to be)!
>>
No. 1020623 ID: e7848c

>>1020619
You have the element of surprise, lock the place down before tipping your hand.
>>
No. 1020630 ID: 67be32

Casey, cast binding magic targeted not just on this cloaked person, but also on the area around them to snag 'em if they run.

Clio, keep pulsing the ward to keep 'em in you two's sight. Also yell up the stairs to the Sender mage watching the exit that you two located the invisible thief and to block the exit.

This chameleon appears to be wearing a Sender's mantle. Are they a Sender College student?
>>
No. 1020637 ID: 96c896

>>1020619
Casey, bind the thief! Then we can demand they return the slab book.
>>
No. 1020642 ID: 8f128b

>>1020619
Busted!

They definitely know they've been spotted, so they're gonna bolt. If you can mark them with something, that would be ideal.
>>
No. 1020644 ID: 36784c

>>1020630
>This chameleon appears to be wearing a Sender's mantle. Are they a Sender College student?
They're either a Sender or they're pretending to be one.

If they really are a Sender, then catching them will be difficult since they could portal away!
>>
No. 1020645 ID: c7eead

Looks like it could be a student. Hopefully this is just a curious creature who couldn't help themselves. Maybe try and catch that falling book? If it's our ancient tome, it might get damaged.
>>
No. 1020648 ID: 36784c

>>1020645
>Maybe try and catch that falling book? If it's our ancient tome, it might get damaged.
That is a box that has been knocked off of the shelf.
>>
No. 1020675 ID: c0641b

>>1020619

Oh, come on, dood, you're not even trying!

Well, whatever. Tell them they're not in trouble (yet), and ask why they took the book. Maybe this can resolve itself nicely.
>>
No. 1020676 ID: 9a2966

Casey, lay out a tentacle web - so whoever that is can't get away.
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No. 1020681 ID: 5b0071

>>1020619
... are they naked?
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No. 1020687 ID: be028a
File 164256304603.png - (112.56KB , 500x700 , 14-38.png )
1020687

A glow forms around Casey’s hand as she applies a binding spell to the upstairs door. She takes a deep breath and lets it out before continuing calmly, “You might as well come down. You aren’t in trouble yet, but hopefully we can work all this out.”

There’s no verbal answer, but there’s a slight shift to the invisible figure as they weigh their odds.
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No. 1020688 ID: be028a
File 164256305724.png - (146.03KB , 500x700 , 14-39.png )
1020688

“Both of us are magic users and the whole college knows you’re here. Who are you? Are you a student? You look like you’ve got a sender’s mantle.” Casey says, her voice a little firmer.

The figure sighs and drops softly from its perch. Standing up, the thief slowly becomes visible, revealing a chameleon who sizes up the pair with two independently roaming eyes. He holds up his hands carefully from underneath a strange, patchwork cloak; its colors seeming to move and shift like ink in water.
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No. 1020690 ID: e7848c

A patchwork mantle at that. Let's start with the name. We're adults here, we can talk about things.
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No. 1020695 ID: f8fa51

Let's disarm them with a compliment before bringing up the theft. The invisibility was a neat trick. It clearly wasn't just camouflaging your skin, either. Was that magic?
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No. 1020696 ID: 96c896

Where is the book?
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No. 1020697 ID: 3ed3c3

>>1020688
How did they even get into the college anyway?
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No. 1020723 ID: c0641b

>>1020688

Well, that's a good start. Remind them that so long as they return the book, then there's no harm done, but that if they really do need the thing, they can certainly borrow it once we've finished transcribing things.

Or if they can read it, they're certainly welcome to lend their assistance.

We need to give them an opportunity to talk, without necessarily offering them easy responses.

>>1020697

I imagine they walked right in through the front door.
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No. 1020795 ID: 2de4fd

So, what's their name? Kinda cute! Neat mantle. Is that what was giving the invisibility?
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No. 1020801 ID: 028f23

Those clothes look enchanted, at the very least made a something fancy. Probably not bespoke, though, considering their state. Wonder if they came up with it.
At this point I’m guessing they’re either talented and ambitious or genuinely had no idea what it was they were stealing. That said, it’s possible someone hired them, so we should still be careful, though I agree that emphasizing no real harm has been done yet is the best course of action.
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No. 1020841 ID: be028a
File 164273335419.png - (138.28KB , 700x500 , 14-40.png )
1020841

“Nice trick with the invisibility. I’ve never heard of that kind of magic: were you born with it?” Casey asks.

The chameleon’s expression is hard to read with his eyes darting in different directions, but he responds, “Sort of. I can fade out of sight on my own. The cape makes the spell more effective, lets me move around.” His voice is gravelly, as if he’s unused to talking to people much, and oddly even toned for someone who’s been caught.

Casey nods, watching the cloaks colors shift. “What’s your name?”

“Er…” He shifts uneasily and his mouth screws up at the corner. “I’d rather not. You know?”

Clio rolls her eyes, “Come on, dude. Look, I’m a former thief too. I’m Clio, this is Casey.” She smiles at him, trying to break the ice while keeping her distance. “Impressive sneaking. Wish I could do that.”

“Well, That explains how you figured out where I’d hid.” He sighs. “I guess you can call me Nemo.”
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No. 1020842 ID: be028a
File 164273336451.png - (103.86KB , 500x700 , 14-41.png )
1020842

“Nice to meet you, Nemo. May we have our book back?” Casey asks sweetly, but with a hint of tooth.

Nemo reaches into the satchel around his tail and pulls out the book of the First Guardians. He holds it out with his strange, double-thumbed hand.
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No. 1020843 ID: 96c896

Take book, ask why he stole it.
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No. 1020844 ID: 815672

If you need it for something, I'm sure something can be arranged after we're done with it.
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No. 1020845 ID: 96c896

Wait, why would he steal a book he can't read? Does he know the language?
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No. 1020880 ID: 2de4fd

Thank him. That book's going to help you out a lot when it comes to solving some problems!
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No. 1021144 ID: be028a
File 164299032915.png - (123.64KB , 500x700 , 14-42.png )
1021144

Casey extends her aura and takes it, causing the thief to recoil slightly at the sight of the spell. “Thank you. I don’t suppose you’d like to tell us why you stole it.”

Nemo looks around nervously for a moment before sighing again. He shifts on his feet and scratches at a scale before answering. “I suppose I might as well. Somebody hired me to grab it. Offered me a pretty big payout; the cloak was part of the payment.”

“Who hired you?” Casey interrogates further.

“I don’t know their names. Some fey folk. Pretty important looking. You know: real old school fey.”
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No. 1021146 ID: 96c896

Interesting. If you can get a physical description then you'll have a clue as to who might want to stop you.

Also you might be able to organize a fake handoff to capture them... Assuming this won't spark conflict between mortals and fey.
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No. 1021170 ID: 028f23

Figures it would be the Fey courts. No other big players in the area that would know about and care about the book.
The big question is why?

Are they pissed off about Litany? Stealing an important book seems too roundabout for vengeance. That said, they are Fey, so I could be mistaken.

It seems more likely to me that the motive is power. Influence over either Moot Point itself, or the Barghest. I have a feeling there are probably older Fey who still remember Hekal, and either resent his deeds or covet his power/vice versa.

Then again....the author of this book was Fey themselves. So it's possible the culprit is a descendent who feels some right to the book itself as a result.

At this point, we have no way to tell. Best thing is to win the man's trust and learn more about the contact.
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No. 1021189 ID: c0641b

>>1021144

Sounds like someone who might have an interest in Hekel's continued disappearance, or potentially keeping secret whatever led to it.

Might be that same court our angel friend was from, considering the exiled demon we met, before.


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