Students of Strixhaven EP 17 – Pieces of the Puzzle

Celebrating their recent win in Silkball, the party come back to their schoolwork. For this third and final trimester, everyone chooses an elective of their choice:

  • Arth: Introduction to Forms and Fractals (Quandrix)
  • Edolkar: The Danger of Misidentified Spell Components (Witherbloom)
  • Khorvus: Introduction to Oratory Techniques (Silverquill)
  • Trix: Examining and Identifying Historical Arcane Artifacts (Lorehold)

Their shared class, Magical Physiologies, continues with a focus on Owlbears. Sometime into the trimester, Khorvus is asked to attend a meeting of Dragonsguard Corps volunteers and members. Lilliana Flametounge welcomes everyone, and introduces a guest to speak with the group about some important developments on campus. Nils, the dean of discipline, approaches and indicates he needs assistance with investigating the rise in an underground trading racket of spell scroll distribution on campus. Nils informs the volunteers that while a formal, official method of purchasing spell scrolls for classes and studies exist, some students choose to use to purchase through these unknown buyers at a reduced rate. He doesn’t expect to completely eradicate the racket outright (lest they go into hiding and pop back up again), but encourages the volunteers to keep an eye and ear out for possible agents.

Sometime later, the party discuss how they should keep investigating the Collective for Strixhaven Development (CSD). Continuing to go to the discussions, Arth notices that Vestan has been speaking more frequently with the other students, and one student that was attending regularly, Barthilda, hasn’t been attending for some time now. Still with access to the copied list of names Vestan had written down, Trix checks with Arth and Darius on students that are listed, but haven’t been to the group meetings. One student, Farshine, is known to Edolkar and shares a class with him this term. They decide to try and learn more about her and why she has been ‘targeted’ for the CSD.

Edolkar and Trix team up to find a way to engage her in conversation, coming up with a plan to ‘steal’ a book from her bag to return it to her later. Later in his shared class with Farshine, Edolkar creates a distraction giving Trix, waiting near a window outside an opportunity to use her Mage Hand to grab the book from a distance and pull it through the window. With the book in hand, Trix disappears and regroups with Edolkar and the group after classes finish for the day. They find the book is a collection of study notes, interspersed with random musings and thoughts on the day’s events.

At the next opportunity, the party travel back to the Witherbloom campus and ‘run into’ Farshine to return the book. They quickly find she has an innate sense of ‘auras’, and everyone requests a reading into what she senses. They enquire on her sense of Vestan, and why she didn’t join the Collective for Strixhaven Development. Farshine indicates that he approached her early in the year, but she associated him with dark, brooding colours, and thinks he is purposefully trying to hide his true ‘colours’ from others, so she stayed clear. With no experience with the ‘CSD’, she encourages them to speak with some other members, and the party agree to go find Barthilda Boulderflask, who hasn’t been attending for several weeks.

On the central campus, the party arrive at the Temple of the Divines, an on-campus centre of religious study and devotion for the devout. Outside on one of the temple walls, the party see and approach a stocky Dwarven woman cleaning some graffiti. Arth knows Barthilda, but the rest of the party introduce themselves, finding out she worships the Dwarven demigod Haela Brightaxe. When they approach the topic about why she hasn’t been turning up to the collective meetings, Barthilda indicates that after a meeting some weeks ago he began to ask very intrusive questions about the temple, including how they use their religious artefacts, focus items, and other items of power during services and events. While Barthilda tried to change topics, Vestan continued asking questions, which led Barthilda to leave outright with no plans to return. She expresses concern over those remaining in the group, and asks if they could check in with Nordon, who she believes still regularly attends CSD meetings. They finish up and depart to the General Studies hall.

Arth spots Nordon within a small crowd of first-year students and approaches him, introducing the rest of the party. It is very noticeable that he appears to have singed skin where one of his eyebrows would normally be. Edolkar asks about it, and Nordon explains that a fireball spell unfortunately backfired, but could have been worse. Arth encourages Khorvus to ask about the ‘backfiring’, and learns that Nordon uses spell scrolls excessively due to his inability to communicate with his warlock patron and develop his abilities. As the party press further, they find out that Nordon goes through a contact, Snorge, to purchase spell scrolls and decide to speak with him to learn more about the operations.

Fortunately, they find Snorge at the Bow’s End Tavern (again). The party discuss who should approach as the ‘buyer’, and Khorvus volunteers. Meanwhile, Trix orders some food for everyone and sits at a separate table. Arth walks up and introduces Khorvus to Snorge, and indicates Nordon directed them to come here and speak about spell scrolls. Snorge says he can help, but when Khorvus asks for a third-level Fireball spell, they find they don’t have enough money to afford it, even at Snorge’s reduced prices. Snorge offers them an option to help cover the cost, such as putting ‘some heat’ on some other buyers who owe him on a line of credit. Alternatively, he knows of some light-headed third-year students that just bought a bunch of spell scrolls they could steal, if interested.

The party discuss and agree to ‘put on the heat’ to these other buyers, to try and get them to pay up to Snorge. The party do share some concern about what this could entail, but come back to Snorge and agree to the request. Delighted, Snorge directs them to a half-orc woman named Garak Tolade, who leads a group known as The Cogs in a warehouse on the central campus. Trix happens to recall that The Cogs are a group of students that work part-time to move and distribute boxes, crates and artefacts for classes, exams and presentations all around the campuses. The party pack up and depart to meet with Garak.