The party continue following Vestan, who they suspect is also “Rodane”, a figure who in Quandrix professor attire asked Edolkar to return a parcel to Candlekeep, which secretly contained Blight seeds. Khorvus leads the trail, following along as Vestan and Darius walk through the Quandrix grounds towards their club meeting. Arth, Trix and Edolkar keep their distance, but continue to follow.
As Vestan and Darius begin to walk through a garden path, Khorvus accidentally draws attention to himself, causing Darius to look back and mention something to Vestan out of ear shot. Vestan appears to tap Darius on the back, prompting him to continue walking, while he kneels down towards his shoes. Within moments, the area begins to blanket with a deep layer of fog, hiding Vestan from the party’s view. Trix and Edolkar decide to try and cut through the gardens, with Trix fluttering into the tree line, and Edolkar barging his way through the grass. Somewhere nearby, they hear the sound of rustling. Khorvus continues to walk forward, deeper into the fog, and realises that the source of the disruption is a pair of two Smoke Mephits, blocking the path ahead. Khorvus readies his foam hammer (which he still has from LARPing), with the party rolling for initiative.
One of the mephits attempts to strike Khorvus with its claws, which fails. Edolkar quickly realises that a Fractal Mascot is the cause of the rustling noise, which moves to attack him. The Fractal grows in size, then makes an attack, which fails. The other mephit moves to hit Trix, which hits and deals some damage. Arth strikes one of the mephits, hitting it. Edolkar swings his warhammer, landing a powerful strike against the Fractal Mascot, causing part of its tail to break off and disintegrate. Trix returns a strike against the mephit which attacked her, and lands additional damage thanks to her rogue abilities. Khorvus swings against a mephit with the foam warhammer, which he imbues with divine energy through Divine Smite.
In round two, the mephit uses Cinder Breath, to try and blind Khorvus, but he averts his gaze and avoids the effects. The Fractal bites Edolkar, landing a powerful strike against him, dealing some damage. The other mephit attempts to use Cinder Breath on Trix, which she also avoids. Arth exits combat and tries to get a visual on Darius and Vestan somewhere on the path ahead. Edolkar strikes against the Fractal Mascot, cutting another slice off its tail. Trix lands another hit with her rapier on one of the mephits. Khorvus prepares another blow with the foam warhammer, imbuing the attack with Divine Smite again. As it dies, the elemental bursts into a large, dense smoke cloud.
Into round three, the Fractal Mascot, now heavily damaged, lands a hit against Edolkar. The remaining mephit strikes at Trix, but misses. Arth continues along the trail, and finds Vestan and Darius walk up to, then into a cube-like statue which slowly rotates in-place, further in the gardens. With the Fractal Mascot now reduced back to a small size, Edolkar grasps and hurls the creature far off into the distance, where it smashes into pieces and fades to dust. Trix tries to land a final hit against the mephit, but she fails, landing further into the forest. Khorvus approaches Edolkar, and heals him with Lay on Hands, mending the wounds from his fight with the fractal.
In the final round, the mephit attempts another strike against Trix, but fails again. Edolkar tries to land a blow against the mephit but misses as well. Trix pivots from the forest, and using the support of her allies nearby, finishes off the remaining mephit, which explodes into a large smoke cloud which lingers for several minutes.
As the smoke clears, Arth informs the rest of the party about the pair walking into a… cube. They walk and talk, eventually arriving in front of the cube, which continues to rotate slowly at different angles. After watching it for a few minutes, they realise that occasionally, one side faces flat towards them for a few seconds before shifting back again. Trix volunteers to jump in and scout the location, and as she steps through finds the interior feeling like a void-like expanse, filled with vines and plant life carefully laid out and grown that form ramps and walkways. She sees enough cover for everyone to hide behind, so steps back out and prompts the party to walk inside.
As they walk in, they see further into the distance is Vestan talking to Darius and five other first-year students, closer to a wide, ever-changing pulsing snarl; a source of wild magical energy. The party move forward, trying to get within ear shot. They begin to hear Vestan talking about wanting to recruit further members, and encourages everyone present to remember who they were assigned to talk to and try to bring along next time. As Vestan lists off the names, Trix realises this matches the names in the list she copied from Vestan’s hidden book in the dorm. Later, Vestan moves onto a different topic, and begins to discuss lifting restrictions on the study of some more powerful, restricted spells. They hear specific mention of two powerful spells, Dominate Person and Simulacrum which causes some concern. Throughout this discussion, the party note that the students appear to be trusting in Vestan’s confidence and don’t seem dismayed by his remarks. Eventually, the meeting adjourns, and the party quickly exit without being seen, agreeing to meet back at their accommodation.
Later, the group await on Darius who arrives after an afternoon class. They begin to ask him questions about his involvement with Vestan and the club, called The Collective for Strixhaven Development (CSD). Darius provides some information on the club, what Vestan is proposing to improve by increasing access to theoretical research on all sorts of magic and spells, all for academic purposes. Arth expresses some interest in these concepts, so Darius invites him to join during their next meeting, even though Vestan only wanted a specific list of people to join. Darius indicates their meeting place is called the Arithmodrome, a cube-like statue which opens up to a large interior void space and promises to take him on the next trip.