Arth continues going with Darius to the “Collective for Strixhaven Development” meetings, but finds that Vestan is reluctant to share much information outside of his “selected” group members. Trix feels concerned that they haven’t spoken with Darius about Vestan’s false identity (Rodane), and plans a meeting to sit down and talk with him about it.
Later, as the trimester continues, the party review how their elective classes are going. Edolkar, having taken up Techniques Used in Combat and Dance, is still “finding his feet”, on the Prismari Campus. Fortunately, he finds his way and proves to be a talented dancer. Arth tries to manage his double workload, putting greater focus on Beginning Computational Magic class, and continues to juggle the classes without too much issue. Trix, continuing The Successful Exploration of Historical Sites, participates in physical activities involving dodging, weaving, and sprinting through mock ruins, to simulate real, hazardous situations. With her small stature and roguish experience, she doesn’t struggle to stay at the top of her class. Khorvus, taking part in Introduction to the Magic of Compliments, adjusts to his Kenku professor, Smartmouth, who teaches the class. Whilst not a perfect score, he manages to maintain good grades.
On another morning, when the party is located at their student dormitory, a Silverquill student makes the rounds, delivering the Strixhaven Star, a student-run newsletter, featuring some interesting headlines:
NEW RUIN SCOUTED OFF COAST OF QUANDRIX AND WITHERBLOOM CAMPUSES, LOREHOLD TO LAUNCH SCOUTING EXPEDITION
Lorehold professors are preparing to mount a small expedition team to the ruins located just offshore of Quandrix and Witherbloom. The ruins appear to have been pulled through near what is referred to as the Mindocean Snarl.
It is rare – but not unheard of – for the occasional artefact or object to find its way to the demiplane of Strixhaven, due to the location of the demiplane in the wider Multiverse. Some professors on campus dispute the widely held theory claimed that the Snarls – the wild, chaotic faucets of magic scattered throughout campus – as the true cause of the behaviour, but further research is still ongoing into the origins of these washed up artefacts, objects and ruins. This would be the first large ruin to have found its way to Strixhaven for several years, but some older students may recall the Beetle Bugs incident of 1492, and the Tower of Noise of 1471 which kept many a student awake until the tower dissipated a week later.
DRAGONSGUARD URGE CAUTION AMONGST RUINS
The Dragonsguard have urged caution to all who approach the ruins, professors included, as historically items that have arrived via Snarls have receded, disappeared or have otherwise been destroyed shortly after their arrival in the demiplane. Imbraham, Dean of Theory at Quandrix, cites the Inverse Law of Chaotic Assimilation, stating that the larger the mass of an item that arrives, the more quickly it is to be returned to its origin point. Research is ongoing to determine if this can be prevented or slowed.
As the year continues, all Intramural sport clubs will be undertaking games to determine regional playoffs. One energetic gnome was quoted:
“Regionals are very important, even though Strixhaven is all one big region. I’m looking forward to seeing how our team fares in the Silkball League, but we need to ensure all our players are pulling their weight. Not to name names, but some of our players need to tuck in their horns and get their head in the game”.Jeremus, First-year Gnome, Silkball Intramural League
Secretly, the Silverquill student also passes a note to Arth, which is from Professor Brenneth Blackstone. The note indicates he has a lead he wants to pursue as part of the Students of the Beyond club, and has requested assistance. The party express interest in these ‘ruins’, but go about their day otherwise.
Meeting with the professor, Arth inquires more on the ruins. Brenneth indicates that some of his contacts in the Lorehold Scout Service have reported indications of the former occupants of these ruins having some sort of Eldritch connection. Brenneth tasks Arth with investigating this further and uncovering any artefacts or knowledge on this Eldritch connection, and has already arranged a permit for Arth and his companions to be permitted to explore the ruins. Arth returns to the dorm, and invites everyone to join him.
The party travel to the shores of Quandrix, where a boat has been travelling back and forth, already filled with a number of Lorehold professors and senior students. After a short journey, they begin to approach a tall, marble temple, that looks to have been dropped in the middle of the expanse of water. Up in the sky near the rear of the ruins, the Mindocean Snarl – a whistling weaving source of wild magical energy – is crackling energy towards the temple. As the party depart the boat, they meet with Hofri Ghostforge, a Lorehold professor they had met earlier in the year. After asking a few questions about the temple, the party proceed inside.
In the first main room, multiple banquet tables are laid out, with two definitive sets distributed between two sides. Prominent colours of blue and green clearly define two opposed factions or groups within the temple. Being mindful of time, the party split up (much to the DM’s horror), with Trix, Edolkar and Darius going to the left side of the temple, and Arth and Khorvus going to the right. The first group finds signs of a religious altar, with scrolls, artefacts and instruments normally reserved for religious preparation ceremonies. Trix takes some scrolls for further study. Arth and Khorvus find their way into a large dorm room. In a side passage, they find a room showing signs of ritualistic sacrifice, with a pile of small animal-looking bones to one side of the room. Arth finds and takes a small notebook, written in an unknown language. Khorvus takes a few pieces of a crushed purple crystal, and sketches the room.
The party regroup in the main hall, and discuss what they’ve found. They move into another room with a large, heavy door which appears locked with two long bars. On one of the side walls, a collection of pipes are set up for some mechanical purpose. At this point, no fluids appear to be flowing, and some pipes appear to be blocked or otherwise ‘steaming’.
Arth casts Comprehend Languages, and examines some text written on or next to the pipes. He confirms that the text written on the bottom-left and bottom-right (as shown above) translates to INPUT, while the text on the top-left and middle-right translates to OUTPUT. The final text, in the top-right image shown above, roughly translates to AUXILIARY BYPASS.
The party spend some time trying to figure out the puzzle, aiming to ensure a path from green ‘input’ to ‘output’, and the same for the blue path. When they discover they can’t reach the blue ‘output’, they change the path to the blue ‘bypass’, which seems to unlock the door. They walk through the door and travel up a large staircase. As they reach the top, they see a large open area with marble columns and a single table in the distance, with something on top of it. The snarl appears to be influenced by something nearby, and a wild storm of wind and rain rolls against them.
Edolkar notices a green light emanating from the table and walks towards it. Arth stays near the doorway, out of the rain, and begins to examine the texts and scrolls he and Trix collected. Reading through, he sees the religious scrolls were from priests of a god named Nazean, who were praying for a blessing to move their entire city, named Mozan, out of danger from the planet’s moon which was on a degrading orbit and expected to crash in the near future. The scrolls discuss escalating conflicts arising with the ‘other’ group of priests in the temple, who were performing their own rituals and prays with an unnamed being. The other books consist of journal entries from a follower of the unnamed Eldritch being, who was believed to possess enough power to save the city and would answer their prays, unlike Nazean. The final notes in the journal indicate plans to betray the priests of Nazean, and finalise a ceremony upstairs to make contact with this being.
As Edolkar approaches the table outside, he sees a skeletal body and the source of the green light: a weirdly formed amulet. Failing a wisdom saving throw, Edolkar is compelled and drawn to the amulet, and snatches it to put it on. As the amulet leaves the skeleton’s body, Edolkar is hit by a lightning strike from the Snarl above, and is flown back a few metres towards one of the marble columns. Fortunately, the strike helps him to recover, and he no longer has an intention to wear the amulet. As Trix approaches to help Edolkar, she finds herself compelled to wield the amulet, and starts moving towards it. Edolkar and Khorvus work together to grapple and hold Trix, but she recovers. Khorvus feels a presence towards the amulet next, but Edolkar and Trix can’t stop him quickly enough. Khorvus places the amulet around his neck, and feels a strong surge of power within. Arth runs over, placing the scrolls and texts away, and examines the situation. He manages to talk Khorvus into taking off the amulet, and maintains his own composure to not be affected by its influence. With the green light-emitting amulet placed into a tightened dark bag, the party find they longer feel a presence.
At this point, the party review what has occurred. Khorvus, shaking by the ordeal, reaffirms his faith in his god Persana, and looks out to the now-glistening waters off Quandrix campus. He makes an Oath of the Open Sea, then dives off the cliff into the waters below. He climbs up and returns to the party a short time later. As he explains to the party that he has made his Paladin Oath, Edolkar congratulates and unintentionally starts yelling while he talks. His exposure to the wild magic of the Snarl appears to have changed him, granting access to Barbarian Wild Magic abilities. Khorvus tests out his new-found abilities, and casts Create or Destroy Water, creating a 30-foot rain cloud that originates from where he stands. Considering that he has successfully translated an unknown language, Arth relishes in the fact he now has an important piece of Lore to share with his Lore Bard colleagues and feels a surge of power become available to him. Trix, being in a place of strong, uncapped power, feels the ability to reach out and grab the bag that Arth placed the amulet into. She mentally extends herself, and finds a spectral hand appears, plucking the bag from Arth’s waist. Trix explains that she can, surprisingly, cast magic now, and has just cast Mage Hand. Arth reluctantly takes the bag back. Arth uses minor illusion to create a fake copy of the bag, just to ensure there are no more hi jinks. The party make their way down the stairs to prepare to leave the temple ruins.
The Solved Puzzle
Two sets of liquids (shown above in green and blue) flow through the pipes to unlock the door. DM note: I’m not a civil engineer. I realise two liquids flowing in different directions, in the same pipes, doesn’t make sense. Imagine that there are two sub-channels that facilitate liquid movement, or… it was magic? Areas marked in black are blocked pipes we can’t carry liquids, which is why an alternate path was taken on the blue path.