Students of Strixhaven EP 10 – An Unexpected Companion

The story continues with the party consisting of Arth, Edolkar and Trix in the long-abandoned Dwarven mining caverns. Arth’s sister, Celeste, was caught in a trap, and has now been freed. From the east, a number of Kobolds have begun to run in their direction. Taking a protective stance around Celeste, the party engage into combat with the creatures.

Into round one, a kobold equipped with a small metal shield approaches, banging his spear and moves forward to attack. The kobold lunges at Trix, but misses. In retaliation, Trix lands a critical strike against the kobold. Following Trix’s lead, Arth tries to strike the kobold, following notes from Trix, and hits against it. From the rear, a kobold equipped with a large rucksack makes its way forward. Pulling from the bag, it pulls out a number of tools and quickly assembles a scorpion on a stick. It lunges the scorpion toward Trix and deals some damage against her. Another kobold approaches, piercing a dagger into Arth’s side. Edolkar attempts to land a wide swing against a kobold, but fails. Celeste attempts an attack which also misses.

In round two, the shielded kobold attempts an attack at Arth, which misses. Trix moves to the inventor kobold, wielding the scorpion, but fails to land the hit against it. Arth provides words of encouragement to Edolkar, and casts Bardic Inspiration to help him. The inventor’s contraption falls apart in his hands, with the scorpion scuttling away. The kobold switches to a dagger, and lands a powerful strike. One of the kobolds, tries to step back, switching to a slingshot, and striking Arth. Another kobold slices towards Edolkar but fails to hit. In retaliation, Edolkar hits, and uses his inspiration do deal enough damage to slice the kobold in half. In fear, they begin to panic and start moving to flee. Celeste shuffles forward and strikes with her longsword.

In the next round, the kobolds begin to disengage, moving away from the party. Trix runs forward, landing a successful hit against the inventor kobold, and forcing the bag’s contents to fall to the ground. Edolkar grabs a javelin, and throws it at a Kobold. Flying through the air, it pierces the creature’s armour and impales it on the floor nearby.

As combat ends, Celeste runs to check on Arth, who took a few hits in battle. Edolkar looks through the inventor’s dropped bag but struggles to find anything that didn’t break in the conflict. Celeste tells Arth she “borrowed” some potions from Zaneus before leaving, and gives Arth a potion of healing, which immediately helps him recover. The party walk with Celeste back to the corner which grows the purple-hue mushrooms, and show her statue of a Dwarven deity. Dipping her pinky into the bowl of purple liquid, she licks it and immediately appears to have recovered from the fatigue of the previous battle. Arth scolds her, but Trix follows her lead and tries some herself, also recovering some health and relieving fatigue. Trix encourages Edolkar to try some as well, which he does with trepidation. As he takes in some liquid, he also recovers some health. Arth is cautious to leave some remaining in the bowl, and considers that he had already saved some earlier, drinking from a small cup. Arth explains what seems to be the science of the room, as they continue to grab up the remaining mushrooms into the two sacks.

After they finish packing the mushrooms, Arth casts Detect Magic, to consider what else may be present in the cavern. He doesn’t detect anything at first, but coming back to the main chamber, senses the slight presence of invocation magic further west into the cavern. He spots off into the distance two small pedestals which stick out of a smooth hallway, adjacent to a large door with symbols on it. The party continue investigating, with Arth noticing in a side corridor a dug-out tunnel, small enough to fit kobolds. From the other side Arth is able to see what looks to be bright day-light, and assumes that the kobolds bypassed the door by breaking through the wall. Approaching the door, he sees two circles with a collection of gemstones and coloured lines. In dwarvish text, it reads the name of the company which operated the mine: Crestfall Brothers Co. Trix recalls that some mining companies would set up puzzles like this to keep their treasures protected from less intelligent creatures like kobolds and goblins.

Two circles with gemstones etched as “lines” can be rotated by devices on the pedestals. On the exterior of the circle, dwarven symbols are present.

They realise that the pedestals allows for shifting either the inner circle or outer circle in a direction, one going clockwise, the other going counter-clockwise. It takes several minutes of coordination and troubleshooting before they properly align the circles to solve the puzzle (shown at the below of this page).

The door unlocks, a large bolt releasing somewhere hidden, and the large doors begin to swing open. A strong whiff of sulphur engulfs their senses as they cautiously walk forward. Edolkar is the first to spot a number of kobolds up ahead piling up what looks to be loot, coin and ornaments in a central, nest-looking object in the room. Based on the behaviour of the kobolds and the nest, Arth suspects this would be a nest for a small dragon, with the kobolds preparing riches for its return.

They spend some time debating on how they should proceed, weighing up their options. A short time later, the kobolds begin to hurry their work, and the flaps of small wings can be heard above, with a creature clawing it’s way through from a hole in the cavern roof. A small red wyrmling arrives, landing in the nest before arguing in the guttural draconic language. The party don’t understand what is being said, but the conversation appears to get heated as the wyrmling rages, using its fire breath to scorch the kobolds where they stand. Arth, Edolkar and Trix express discomfort with staying here any longer, but Celeste wants to get a closer view. Trix notices the creature has something caught in its back leg, and tries to sneak ahead to get a better look, as well as get more detail for a sketch of the wyrm.

From an improved vantage point, she is able to see a ballista bolt has pierced the wyrmling’s leg, which it continues to pick at to try and extract. Telepathically, they consider whether they should make an offer to the wyrmling to remove the ballista bolt, but considering that it is a red dragon (and by nature is chaotic evil), decide against it. Trix finishes her sketch of the wyrmling, then sneaks back to the door, offering the sketch to Celeste as a birthday present. Arth locks shut the door by rotating the dials on the pedestals, and decide to work their way back to the entrance to leave.

With their two bags of mushrooms and the sketch of the wyrmling, they step out of the cavern back into the fresh air. Trix focuses her mind to contact Deekah, and asks to be brought back to Strixhaven. As Deekah arrives via a spiralling teleportation circle, she is surprised at first to see Celeste. Arth explains that his sister tagged along, without their knowledge, and asks how she knew where they would be. Celeste comes clean, explaining that she thought Arth would be too busy to attend her party, and contacted Zaneus to assign a task for him to accomplish near the city of Portsmouth related to his studies. She confirmed from Zaneus where the cavern would be, and left the city to find him and join in on an adventure for her birthday. Arth indicates to Deekah that he should see his sister back safely to Portsmouth, so farewells Edolkar and Trix who travel back to Strixhaven with Deekah.

Travelling overland, Arth and Celeste find their way back to Portsmouth just before nightfall, arriving at Zaneus’ apartment. As they enter in, their parents show relief as they see young Celeste return, and surprise in seeing Arth entering with her. When pressed on where Celeste went, Zaneus indicates he sent them on some “errands”, to let Celeste take part in an adventure. Arth hands over a bag of the collected mushrooms, which Zaneus accepts with glee. Meanwhile, back on the demiplane of Strixhaven, Edolkar and Trix arrive in one piece. They invite Deekah to join them at the Firejolt Café.

With the party winding down, Arth says his goodbyes to his sister and parents, and asks Zaneus to help him return to Strixhaven. They travel the short distance to a place in the city where Zaneus prepares a spell through the use of magically-enhanced pillars, opening a portal to the demiplane. Arth thanks Zaneus, and warns him about the wyrmling in the cave. Zaneus chuckles, indicating he knew of a bounty on the creature. Arth expresses anger over him putting Celeste in danger, and indicating he doesn’t have any flash spells to protect others, just books. Zaneus indicates it is high time he learns how to turn these books into spells, and hands him an old tome, written in a cryptic, indiscernible text. Zaneus indicates to Arth to study it hard, and it may help him further develop his studies. As Arth departs through the portal, he hears Zaneus say that he is off to kill the wyrmling.

The solved puzzle is shown below:

The solved puzzle. Gamemasters note: I should have evenly spaced out the images to make the challenge harder!