Note: Please ignore the post dates; for a campaign this short reverse chronological order is dumb.
After several hours of studying the records provided by the library, the party split up to investigate the clues ascertained so far.
Brand secluded himself with a likely-looking ritual book, while Mr. Burke and Tomph
set out to interview the last people to check out each missing item. Smokey, Methos, and Legadou examined the areas where the books had been kept, and questioned some of the library’s resident spirits.
Burke and Tomph managed to track down the history professor who last requested the Grimoire of Arcus, and with a bit of Intimidate and a dollop of fire retardant foam, they secured a copy of the journal article he wrote on it, which they leave it at the library to be examined by Smoky et al. Mr. Burke invents a new sport he likes to call "gnomeswiping," which allows them to locate the student who last requested the Letters. They also are treated to a litany of the many woes of random roommate selection, but Tomph swipes the paper written from the Letters while the roommate rants, apprently looking for sympathy from Mr. Burke. She doesn't get it, but she does manage to keep all her digits, which is really the best she could have done in the encounter. Following a visit to the tailor to spruce themselves up for the gala that evening, they visit the Korranberg Times and leave a note for the reporter who last examined the missing medical treatise. It appears that her article on that text won some sort of award, but she isn't expected back until her next deadline.
Brand’s studies were briefly interrupted when he received a message from the captain of the party’s chartered galleon – a package had been delivered for him and was waiting for the party’s return.
Smoky et al, meanwhile, investigated the storage and security of the top five highest-ticket RRM insured Karrnathi artifacts remaining in the Library’s custody. They examined two of them personally, noting the arcane barriers which guard the cases, and are guided deep into the storage areas to test the ward on another two items, which is intact. Following these investigations, they arrange for the party to get into the gala hall an hour early to examine the last item on the list, the Argonessen Difference Engine, before it is unveiled during the gala. They also manage to sneak into the Archivist’s office and do a bit of searching – they find some broken crystal figurines, a charred scrap of paper that they believe is a page from the Prophecies of the Blood, and detect the presence of an Arcane Lock. Eldon comes looking for them before they can find the source of the spell, however.
The Archivist himself seems to be meeting with the Scholars, who arrived after the party despite fleeing well before the party had a chance to resume their journey. At one point, the party gathers intelligence placing all of them in the library’s adjacent café, but later on, no one seems to know where Archivist or scholars are, or if they are still together, although the security warforged note that they are all still within the bounds commonly referred to as the Library. Remembering that Karrnath supplemented their armies with the undead during the war, Smoky wonders what these "scholars" are experts of.
With the additional information gathered by Mr. Burke and Tomph, Smoky, Methos, and Legadou realize all the missing items in some way relate to the Argonessen Difference Engine and conclude it may be a target for the thief. They gather all the research they can on this subject, although the best sources are the books and papers already missing. With the help of an academically minded- ghost,(recorded on the gem) which possesses Legadou briefly, they are led to the most helpful information. What scant mentions remain indicate that the Engine is meant to read/produce/alter Dragonic Prophecy, and possilby uses blood as fuel. It was built by the Blood of Vol cultists in Karranth, but there’s no record of it ever being used before it was acquired by the Library, or indeed that it could ever function, as the design presented in the Prophecies of the Blood is often regarded as the ramblings of a madman. There are some hints that The Chamber may have had a hand in getting the Engine away from the cultists during the war. (Smoky makes short updates to the gem throughout their research) Legadou talks to several spirits in the Library, some of whom are fleeing – some are merely re-living past sieges during the war, but the spriit of a bullied Tiefling student, who has sheltered in the library much longer than some of the other spirits, talks about the Library itself as “being upset”, which is disturbing all the resident spirits. Legadou and Smoky console the girl and lead her outside the library's doors, where she disappears.
Brand announces that with access to the Library’s considerable resources, he has figured out how to work a Detect Object ritual, which should be very useful if anything else goes missing. By this point, it’s time to examine the Engine’s security for the gala, and the party is escorted down to the reception hall, giving them a chance to nick some tasty vittles and refill their flasks before the hoi-polloi arrive.
They wait for the Archivist to arrive and place the final wards, but he doesn’t show. After sending Eldon to retrieve him, they take a closer look (or whack) at the display case, and realize the Engine inside it is an illusion cast on the glass – the Engine itself is missing. The warforged in the room simultaneiosly put out a warning that the Archivist is missing and security lockdown has begun. Sensing that the party needs to act now or be mired down with the univeristy security, Brand casts Detect Object looking for the Engine which leads them straight down.
Conscripting the first archivist they see, the party demands to be taken to the lower levels, until Brand’s sense of the Engine indicates a new direction – perhaps through the Archvist’s office? They find the office in total disarray, with signs of a struggle and blood on the corner of the desk. Resuming their search for the Arcane Lock from earlier in the day, Methos and Smoky discover the Wardrobe is what is locked – but it’s a different “flavor” of magic than before. After a quick Knock ritual, the party finds the Lock was concealing a portal at the back of the wardrobe, and jump through in pursuit.
They arrive in a cave, somewhere far beneath the Library’s marble halls and isolated reading rooms. Among the drip-drip of water and the whooshing of cool earth-scented air, they hear a far off scuffling, but the first step out of the portal causes Legadou to gasp out a warning just in time to prevent Smoky from stepping on some sort of teleportation trap. She also detects a shimmer a few feet away. The rest of the party is rooted the spot, but Mr. Burke, not one to stand for wibbly-wobbly magic stuff, promptly attacks and dispatches the shimmer with a fleeting scream of “help us!” from a ghostly dragon.
The party begins carefully picking their way across the cavern, towards a set of large iron doors, but the way is treacherous – Brand is pinked by a dislodged boulder that nearly flattens Methos, causing the floor to give way beneath him. He narrowly avoids falling into the abyss, but recovers his composure with alacrity, despite his crystals being chipped and displaced. Mr. Burke’s bravery gets the best of him again and he sets off down a hallway and into a stake trap, getting one of his feet pierced for his trouble. Legadou tries to commune with any nearby sprits, and is again confronted by the ghostly dragon, who pleads for the party to help, to not allow “it” to be started.
After a few tense moments, the party navigates the minefield of traps and faces another obstacle, as gouts of white flame erupt from nozzles set into walls of the passage to the door whenever they draw near. After examining the layout of the traps, Methos concludes that this arrangement is consistent with the protections on a dragon’s lair. Smoky identifies the fire from the trap as radiant, rather than fire – unusual for dragons, but he murmurs quietly to the flames and seems to reach an accord with them – the party gains resistance to a good deal of the damage done by the flames. One by one, they plunge into the breach – most of them taking a blast of the white flame, until Mr. Burke bumps a panel on the far side with his elbow, which seems to disable the whole thing.
Standing before the huge doors, the party can hear screams, roars, and thumps, and concludes that they had better steel themselves before proceeding. Swords are silently eased from their scabbards and bandages quickly wrapped around the worst of the injuries. As one, the party takes a deep breath and heaves at the immense door.