Arth, Edolkar, Khorvus, Trix and Darius stand in the Biblioplex, the grand library and centrepiece of the Strixhaven campus. With two orientation challenges complete (for both Silverquill and Lorehold), they decide on which college challenge to go for next.
Remembering the hint given to them in the bog by the Treant Professor Willowdusk, they approach a beautiful, green-skinned dryad, speaking with students and tending to a small garden. The professor greets them fondly with a wispy voice, introducing themselves as Veralda Lang. Veralda indicates that for the Witherbloom challenge, there are a number of Pests located in the garden. The task is simple: Help the creatures to… grow. The party finds that many other groups of students look to be attempting this challenge, but so far, none appear to have been successful. Edolkar grabs a pest from the garden, and brings it back to the group. The group look around for a red berry, similar to what they had found in the bog, and Trix, comparing an earlier sketch she had made, is able to grab a handful stealthily.
Trix’s cousin Athena shows up, gloating on her successes, but has still not completed the Witherbloom challenge. Athena tries to glance at Trix’s sketchbook, but fails, and walks off. Trix holds the berries in her palm, then grabs one and puts it into her mouth, showing her chew and swallow it. The pest, interested, quickly grabs the remainder of the berries, then begins to grow. This draws the attention of many students, so Arth quickly creates a diversion by asking Khorvus what that “spell” was that he cast. It takes Khorvus a moment to realise, but he then follows along and indicates it was learned from his Triton clan, and that a similar book is somewhere in the Biblioplex, somewhere up high. This causes a rush of students to start running through to the information kiosk, trying to figure out the spell they cast. Veralda congratulates the group, providing them with the Witherbloom stamp on their orientation challenge. She indicates that as the professor for Magical Physiologies, she looks forward to meeting them in class later this week.
The party decide on how to proceed, and agree to do the Prismari challenge next. A Genasi woman name Veyran, with fiery hair is watching and guiding an ad-hoc performance of third-year Prismari students. The professor explains their challenge is: to see Passion, in whatever way that comes out. As they consider their options, Khorvus takes out his Warhammer and shield, beginning a military kata called “Wrath of the Kraken Lords”, as he moves around in a small circle. Arth pulls out a small drum and begins a drum beat following his movements. Edolkar begins a deep, guttural chant in his native tongue. Trix follows along, slicing with her wings to create gusts of air in the circle. Darius is encouraged along and follows the flow of everyone else. His innate sorcery activates, and he emanates waves of fire. The third-year students and Veyran soon join in, following Khorvus’ moments around the circle. As Khorvus finishes his kata, he slams his Warhammer down, the waves of (mostly safe) fire blasting away into the Biblioplex. The party receives an applause from the Prismari students, and Veyran stamps their orientation challenge, having successfully shown passion.
With one more challenge left, they head to the Quandrix professor. A large, bipedal bear greets them in the common tongue, introducing themselves as Ruxa. Ruxa discusses with Arth that much of Quandrix’s focus is on understanding the nature of mathematics, and how mathematics can understand and shape nature. Ruxa indicates the challenge is to tell a joke, which is ciphered onto a whiteboard that he shows to the party. If you’d like to give the puzzle a go yourself, take a look at the puzzle below:
Ruxa provides the following clue to get the party started:
- The campus map shows the association of the Central Campus (shown in the cipher as a flower-like/star object) with the other colleges. Ruxa notes: Many students start their journey at the Central Campus before looking northward.
For those who need some help, you can see this hint to understand how the cipher might work. To avoid spoilers, we won’t share too much more of the player’s discussion, you’ll have to listen from 59:04 on the episode if you want to hear the answer! After much debate, the party crack the clue, and present the joke to Ruxa. With a hearty chuckle, the bear congratulates them on solving the puzzle.
With their orientation challenge complete, the party rush back to Groff Lundquist at the student store, presenting their five stamps. Surprised, Groff makes a magical announcement to the Biblioplex that a group has now returned the challenge sheet, and a light applause is heard from the patrons inside. Groff indicates that as their reward, they are eligible to choose their accomodation, which is normally reserved for later-year students. The party discuss their needs, including:
- A roost for Trix
- A library and pool for Khorvus
- A room with a view for Arth
- A bed wide enough to fit Edolkar
- And finally, somewhere quiet for Darius.
Inspecting the requirements, Groff indicates that there is a cottage on the central campus, normally reserved for third and fourth year students, that should meet their needs. The party accept, and receive a few sets of keys and directions to the cottage. Before they leave, Groff hands everyone their student bundles, including student clothing, welcome books and other introductory equipment.
Finishing up at the Biblioplex, the party head to their new accommodation which is only a short walk. Looking like a country cottage on the outside, the place looks warm and cosy, made of brick and large wide windows gleaming light in. The interior is a combination of wood, brick and stone, with a large common room available for study sessions. Trix finds at the top of the cottage a suitable roost in the rafters. Edolkar finds a bed that while not entirely suited to his height, is sufficient for his needs for now. Khorvus finds in the basement of the cottage is a small bathhouse, with a mixture of oils, scents, and sprays. Arth finds many nooks and crannies perfect for reading. Finally, Darius finds a room more than suitable towards the quieter end of the cottage.
With some downtime, the party begin to take care of their own matters. Khorvus unwraps the seaweed package given to him by Havon Danmar, the captain of the Coral Guard in Levinas. Inside the wrapping is a dried-out starfish. Curious, Khorvus carries the starfish into the bath, placing it gently into the water. The starfish grows in size to the size of a small shield. As Khorvus holds the shield in his hands, he realises that without water, the starfish will quickly shrink back to its husked form.
Meanwhile, unpacking her things Trix hears a muffled voice from the bottom of her bags. She unwraps the parcel and finds a statue bust, degraded to the point that most of its features are indistinguishable. The bust is rude, short-tempered, and seems quite forgetful about whom it once was. Trix explains the bust is now in Strixhaven, under her care, to which he seems disinterested, but appreciates being given a nice view of the campus near a window before muttering to himself trying to recall his previous life.