Leaving Garak’s warehouse with some additional coin and spell scrolls, the party go back to Snorge to let him know their side of the deal is done. Snorge is surprised on their speed to complete the task, but says he’ll have their requested Fireball spell scroll available in a few days. The party take time to rest, catching up on their classes and extracurriculars, before returning two days later to get the spell scroll.
With the Fireball spell scroll in-hand, they consider tracking down someone who can help ‘decode’ the scrolls to try and find a source or indication of the original maker in the underground scroll racket. They agree to speak with Professor Deekah on Quandrix campus, and drop-in one afternoon after Arth finishes up a class with the teacher. Khorvus introduces himself, having not met Deekah before, and asks for assistance with investigating the origins of some of the spell scrolls being distributed on campus. Deekah expresses interest, but indicates another professor, a Dwarf named Estus Burrowbane, would have the knowledge and resources to help. Deekah leads the party to a set of rooms below Torus Hall that serve as private study rooms or labs for professors and academics on campus, eventually arriving in Estus’ workshop. Inside, they find a small dwarf, working away at a mechnical contraption in the middle of the room. Deekah introduces Estus, then excuses herself to address other matters. The party ask if Estus can help identify the source of spell scrolls, and he accepts the challenge willingly. Taking their spell scrolls he begins to analyse the spells, including Fireball, Pass without Trace, Entangle and Conjure Animals.
After sometime, Estus determines that the Fireball and Conjure Animals scrolls, both fairly powerful (3rd level), appear to have been constructed hastily, with signs of poor workmanship or made by someone with insufficient experience. Estus reveals that for the Fireball powder, what should have been pure Sulfur was replaced instead with Pyrite. Simiarily, the Conjure Animals spell (in the form of a song), is missing a stanza that would grant the caster the ability to control the animal summoned. Estus indicates that the other two scrolls, both of lower level, appear to be safe, and have an indication of being made by the underground trading racket. The party consider how to proceed, and thank Estus for the help before departing.
Back at their student housing, the party consider what to do next. Knowing that Snorge is involved in the racket somehow, they decide to follow him at the next available opportunity and determine why some of the scrolls are becoming ‘bad’. Arriving back at the Bow’s End Tavern, they find a spot to sit on the other side of the room, but keep a watchful eye on Snorge, who maintains conversations with several students throughout the night. Khorvus approaches a friend, Nihal, and pretends to be interested in what he has to say, while secretly listening to Snorge on a neighbouring table speaking with a young human student. The student orders a spell scroll, provides payment, and Snorgge indicates to expect the scroll to be made-to-order and delivered to him in several days.
After sometime, later into the evening, the party see Snorge depart the tavern and begin to follow him. At a distance, they notice he gets into a carriage heading to the Silverquill campus, and make their way on a carriage themselves. The party continue following, eventually setting themselves up in useful vantage points overlooking a courtyard where Snorge is sitting and waiting. Snorge waits for an opportunity where there appears to be no-one around, then cracks open a piece of stone, placing a piece of parchment and a bag of coins inside, before patching the hole back up and departing. The party wait a few minutes, then approach. Arth cracks open the same piece of stone, finding the parchment and coinpouch. Reading the parchment, they see it is a list of spells, presumably written by Snorge, to notify his associates of what to manufacture:
- Lightning Bolt, Lorehold Tablet form
- Enhance Ability, Witherbloom Potion
- Faerie Fire, standard spell scroll
Arth deducts that the coin pouch is delivered along with the parchment to the actual manufacturers of the spell scrolls. He suggests they take out five gold pieces, with the party split on whether this is a good idea or not. He continues, making a note of the spells, and taking some gold, before putting everything back into its place. They decide to wait around for who comes to collect. After waiting some more time, they spot a hesitant and cautious elven student approaching. Arth recognises the student as a first-year named Elias, a member of the Collective for Strixhaven Development. Elias finds and opens the cracked piece of stone, and begins to read and make a copy of the parchment inside, not touching the coinpouch. He quickly places everything as it was before running away. Arth directs Trix to continue following Elias, but the rest of the party decide to stay and see if anyone arrives. A short time later, another figure approaches, but seems to have done this before, sticking to the shadows for the most part and not showing any signs of nervousness. They quickly and smoothly open the crack, taking out the parchment and coinpouch, before ducking back out. Arth tries to follow the figure, but loses them.
The party regroup with Trix, and decide to continue trailing Elias, who is preparing to travel to the Central Campus. Like earlier in the evening, they cram into a clockwork carriage, keeping their distance from Elias and wait until they arrive. Elias walks to one of the many courtyards on Central Campus, before taking a seat on a bench. A humanoid figure approaches, wearing Quandrix attire, and sits down next to him. The party realise that this figure is Vestan, the leader of the Collective for Strixhaven Development group and supposedly also professor “Rodane” who gave Edolkar the blight seeds.