Students of Strixhaven EP 21 – Make Your Choice

The party take a moment to heal and assess the situation, having just fought off a Shadow Demon, summoned by Vestan. As they prepare to leave and find where Vestan teleported to, the automata that fell down the stairs early returns, bringing Shaile Talonrook, the Dean of Radiance as ‘help’. Shaile immediately expresses concern for the damage to the teacher’s lounge, but moves to help heal the party. As the party bring her up to speed, she agrees they should find him, but to do so safely.

Once outside the Biblioplex, Trix (with the help of Edolkar) is hurdled high into the air, and begins to survey the surrounding area. While she doesn’t see Vestan, she does see Elias sprinting in an outer courtyard near the student dorms. She lands, and they agree to grab him and find out what he knows. Tracking him, they eventually catch him going back to a first-year dorm. The party confront him and confirm Arth’s suspicions that Vestan intends to go to a Snarl, likely on Quandrix campus. They agree to go to the Arithmodrome, where Vestan hosts the CSD meetings, but consider going to the Crystalwind Snarl as well. They bring Elias with them on a short rope.

On the way, they encounter Nils (in his pyjamas) who has just been woken up by Shaile. Unamused with their actions so far, he questions their judgement, but permits them to continue their ‘investigation’, agreeing to meet them at the Arithmodrome once he is properly dressed. The party make their way to Quandrix campus via a clockwork carriage, and make their way into the Arithmodrome. They spend some time examining the interior, a void-like spanning array of vines and branches, but don’t find him. Around this time, Elias breaks free of the rope and flees. The party follow at a good pace behind him, following him to the Crystalwind Snarl, located on the outer edge of Quandrix campus. As they arrive, Elias shouts to Vestan, kneeling over the device he used in the teacher’s lounge, with Darius and Nordon standing near him. The party see that the device appears to be channelling energy from the Snarl, preparing to do something. In a confrontation with Vestan, they engage in combat with him and two Fractal mascots.

Into round one, Khorvus shouts briefly to Darius, asking him to join the party and make the right decision. He prepares and hurls a javelin at one of the fractal mascots, piercing it. Arth discusses a battle plan with Khorvus briefly, before casting Minor Illusion. He imitates Nils voice from a short distance away, implying that he and Shaile Talonrook are close by and ready to join the fight. Vestan sees that Edolkar is not in cover, and casts Ray of Enfeeblement, but misses. Edolkar enters a rage, and casts Kinetic Jaunt to lunge forward. With his wild magic path, as he enters rage a number of coloured lights appear around him, protecting himself and allies close by. He sprints and strikes at the other fractal mascot, hitting a powerful blow against it. The other fractal approaches forward, attacking Edolkar, but fails.Trix uses Cunning Action to sprint forward and engages the fractal in melee distance. Striking with her rapier, she lands a critical hit dealing a stunning blow and destroying the fractal outright. The other remaining fractal tries to attack Edolkar, dealing a little bit of damage. At the end of the round, the party see Darius step forward. He gives a small wink, and casts Burning Hands against Vestan.

Darius casts Burning Hands. With added visuals and sound effects!

In round two, Khorvus throws another javelin which breaks through Vestan’s mage armour. Arth continues with his Minor Illusion trickery as a bonus action, pretending to be Nils casting a Fireball spell. For his main action, he casts Silence, centring on Vestan. Vestan is quick to realise that most of his spells won’t work (requiring at least Verbal component to cast), so attacks with Exponential Lash, focused on Darius. The attack lands, and the attack deals additional damage against another target: Khorvus. Edolkar disengages from the fractal mascot, moving towards Vestan in an attempt to grapple him. Due to the effects of the silence, Vestan doesn’t hear him coming and is easily tackled down the ground. Darius moves to inspect the artifact still drawing in power. Trix runs to the single fractal mascot remaining, and deals some additional damage, but does not destroy it outright. The fractal attacks in retaliation, dealing damage in return.

At the start of round three, Khorvus rushes to the fractal, attempting to swing his war hammer but misses. Arth joins Darius with inspecting the device near the cliffside. Vestan tries to break free of the grapple, but fails. Edolkar picks up and moves Vestan slightly closer to Khorvus. Darius tries to shout something to Arth about the device, but realises this is fruitless due to the effects of the Silence spell. Trix tries to finish off the mascot, dealing a final strike which destroys it and ends combat.

Trix leads Elias and Nordon away from the area, encouraging Nordon to find Nils at the Arithmodrome and bring him here. Arth and Darius step outside the Silence zone of effect, and discuss what they can do with the device. Darius indicates that from what he heard from Vestan, the device harnesses power from the Snarl to do something, but it appears to have already drawn too much power to be shut off. Edolkar and Khorvus tie up Vestan, keeping him firmly in the Silence spell’s area of effect to prevent him from teleporting away again.

The party consider what to do with the dodecahedron-shaped device, passing notes within the Silence zone to facilitate communication. As Trix inspects it, she realises the device is set or ‘attuned’ to a particular side, with the colour of deep purple emanating from the interior. Trix investigates and figures that she could switch the side of dodecahedron that is ‘active’, which would change the associated colour and presumably whatever sort of inter-planar magic the device seems to be preparing. Trix relays this to Arth via notepad, suggesting they change the side to a different colour. She indicates the current ‘purple’ option is possibly dangerous, and questions what they could change it to. The think back to earlier in the evening, remembering the Shadow Demon came out of the rust-coloured side. Inspecting the sides, she sees the full list of colours that lightly glow:

  • Copper Red
  • Pure Red
  • Jet Black
  • Pale Blue
  • Magenta
  • Dark Blue
  • Rust (this was what the dodecahedron landed on in the teacher’s lounge)
  • Granite
  • Olive
  • White
  • Silver
  • Purple (currently selected)

Arth steps out of the Silence area of effect, asking Trix if the portal is designed to take something there, or bring something here. Trix isn’t sure, but urges for them to switch it to anything besides purple. They debate for a short time on what colour would be best, but struggle to make a decision. As the device begins to appear to almost finish powering up, Trix chooses to randomly ‘roll’ her choice (though taking care to not land on Rust or Purple). As she rolls, she gets a 3, meaning the device re-configures to the colour of Jet Black just as it activates. A metre away, a portal stands vertically in the air, bordered by a jet black colour. The party look through the portal and see into a different plane, which they suspect is the chaotic plane of Limbo. They see large chunks of rock and other elements smashing into each other. They realise the portal opened on a small floating rock, and have attracted the attention of some Death Slaad, who quickly approach. Just before the Slaadi can make it through the portal, the device loses charge and the portal closes suddenly.

Around this time the Silence spell expires, with Arth being the first to scream “Jet Black… Jet Black??”. With the silence spell lifted, they also begin to question Vestan but fail to get much from him. Nordon approaches with Nils and Shaile who inspect the scene and are brought up on the recent events of what just happened. Arth tries to pocket the ‘dode door’, but Nils quickly questions where the device is and asks for it to be handed over. Nils indicates he plans to raise an investigation with the Dragonsguard and try to find out what they can from Vestan, who remains tight-lipped. Nils requests Khorvus help bring Vestan to a security office on Quandrix and the party agree to regroup in the morning…