The party move off separately to take part in their chosen electives classes.
Arth and Trix go to their Introduction to Archaemancy class. Arriving at a lecture hall, Trix and Arth listen to an introduction to Lorehold concepts by opposing professors, August Tullus and Plargg. The professors discuss conflicting ideas on order versus chaos, and eventually opens up the lecture to student debate. Trix comes forward and brings up her thoughts that there is an element of both Order and Chaos in reality, and that both are needed. Towards the end of the lecture, the professors indicate that for extra-credit at the end of the course, students are encouraged to journey to Candlekeep on the upcoming field excursion. Their focus should be on the study of recent history of the Sword Coast, where Candlekeep resides.
Khorvus arrives to a large lecture hall, for his Beginning Inkomancy class. The two professors, Embrose Lu and Shaile Talonrook initiate a discussion between arcane versus divination magic, and their origins in verbal spellcasting. Khorvus presents a question that if arcane spell casters use ancient words as a part of verbal spellcasting, could it be possible that the words originate from a divine source? This creates much debate in the class, which is discussed further. As the lecture ends, students are encouraged to look into the “Emerald Door” at Candlekeep, and seek to understand more about its verbal spellcasting origins.
Edolkar travels by himself to Arcano-botany for Begineers, being held in a large courtyard filled with plants and shrubbery. He sits next to a young elven student, with dark hair, that he recognises from the Magical Physiologies class. As the class begins, the two Witherbloom professors, Lasette and Valentin introduces themselves. The class serves as an introduction to Witherbloom, along with the two conflicting natures of growth and decay. Edolkar expresses great interest in the Plant Growth spell, which is briefly discussed. Towards the end of the class, the students are encouraged to visit the Gardens of Growth at Candlekeep, now maintained by Saffine, a former student, who uses the spell to keep a constantly blooming garden.
As the class finishes up, a male human approaches, wearing Quandrix professor clothing. He looks around the lecture hall before approaching Edolkar, asking if he is a Witherbloom student. The professor introduces themselves as Rodane, and is looking for help. Rodane indicates that the Quandrix campus received a parcel, sent from a “Saffine”, but the recipient address was not provided, and no one he has spoken to was expecting the parcel, either at Quandrix or in Witherbloom. Edolkar says he has just learnt that a Saffine resides at Candlekeep, and is asked by Rodane if he would be willing to return the parcel back to the sender. Edolkar agrees, and Rodane is grateful, handing over the parcel, before he quickly departs.
We skip forward to later in the school trimester, to the day of the Candlekeep excursion. Everyone discusses what their characters have performed during downtime between classes which includes:
- Khorvus continues training with the Dragonsguard, adjusting to life above the surface.
- Edolkar conducts private study into the Plant Growth spell, and speaks with several Witherbloom students to learn more about it.
- Arth spends time exploring the campuses, and meeting new people. Speaking with a Lorehold professor, he enquires about connections between Quandrix and Lorehold.
- Trix attends a club held by Osgir, a stone giant, who teaches information about ancient artefacts and relics. Bringing along her elderly sage bust, Osgir provides some suggestions on how to help the bust recover its memories.
Later in the trimester, the party have regrouped to prepare for their journey to Candlekeep. A collection of students numbering around 30 follow Nils and Arkin, professors of Silverquill and Prismari respectively. With the help of an elderly mage, the professors complete a Gate spell, connecting to Toril on the Material Plane, and usher the students through. As the party arrives, they find themselves on a windy coastline, with a fortified wall stretching along to the west. Approaching a large set of doors, they see the frame has the text of an ancient language embedded directly into the stone. Khorvus attempts to quickly sketch part of the text closer to the base of the wall, but doesn’t capture all of it. Arth remembers reading about protective magic used by Candlekeep, and that this text might act as a part of the magic that keeps it safe.
Entering through the doors, the party find themselves in what is known as the Court of Air. Arkin introduces the party, and other students, to the main amenities available to them, including the Gardens of Growth, the Hearth, and the Pillars of Pedagogy. The Avowed of Candlekeep can make themselves available to students if they need to access resources from the library, but direct access is off limits to students. Finally, Arkin asks the students to ensure they stay on their best behaviour, as Strixhaven only just recently re-established good standing with Candlekeep after a prior incident…
With free access to roam the outer sections of Candlekeep, Edolkar proceeds to the Gardens of Growth to find Saffine, having held onto the parcel this whole time. Approaching through a hedged gate, they walk into a beautiful garden, filled with a number of blooming flowers, well-kept grass, and luscious crops. Towards the end of the garden, Edolkar spots an elven woman with dark skin. The woman greets the party warmly, and introduces herself as Saffine. Edolkar thrusts the parcel to Saffine, explaining he has returned it as no recipient at Strixhaven was marked. Saffine indicates that she originally received a request from a Quandrix professor named “Rodane” at Strixhaven for a small sample of seeds from her garden. Having not heard anything in some time, she didn’t think much more of it. Puzzled, she begins to open the parcel to ensure the seeds are still intact.
As Saffine opens the parcel, the party see a seed box. As Saffine opens the box, she and Edolkar are knocked back by a strong wind gust, shooting upward, thrusting the contents of the box into the air. Everyone sees very black seeds fly up, before beginning to land throughout the garden. In the areas where the seeds landed, the ground begins to darken and crops begin to darken and shape, creating the form of creatures. Arth recognises these creatures as Blights, evil monsters that seek to further corrupting the lands they dwell in. Saffine calls out, telling the party to defend themselves.
Entering into combat, Edolkar draws his great sword and enters a Barbarian rage. He slices through one of the Blights in blind fury, destroying it completely. Arth uses his long sword against another Blight, but misses. A Blight strikes towards Edolkar, landing a successful hit. Another creature shoots a ranged needle attack at Khorvus, hitting his neck. Darius hurls a fireball at one of the Blights, which lands and injures it. Saffine shouts to the party to keep up the offensive while she tries to stop the spread of the blights in the remainder of the garden. Trix grabs her Rapier, striking against a Blight nearby and splintering it. Khorvus pulls out a javelin, and hurls it towards the Blight which damaged him. It hits, piercing the centre of the creature, but is not enough to destroy it outright.
In a new round of combat, Edolkar moves to make another slice at a Blight, destroying one of the creatures in a single chop. Arth gains confidence with his long sword, landing a critical hit and swings into the side of a Blight, killing it and causing it to fall to the ground. A blight attempts to strike Arth, but misses. Darius tries to shoot another fireball, but misses the shot, just narrowly missing Edolkar. Another Blight moves forward, striking Edolkar with a critical hit and dealing significant damage, which is thankfully absorbed by his rage. Saffine continues to focus on her spell, while another Blight unsuccessfully strikes toward Khorvus. Trix lunges forward striking at the Blight. Khorvus activates his Paladin divine sense, and detects where the Blight seeds are that have landed in the garden.
In the third round, Edolkar’s rage blurs his vision, and he misses his swing. Arth lands a successful blow against one of the remaining Blights. Using Khorvus’ guidance, Darius begins to find and pick up the Blight seeds off the ground. The final Blight strikes against Edolkar again, landing a successful hit. Trix moves forward, running through Edolkar’s legs, and strikes toward the Blight, landing the finishing blow against it. Khorvus casts Lay on Hands on Edolkar, healing some of his health. Saffine calls out for everyone to grab the remainder of the Blight seeds, which they then place back into the seed box. With all the seeds collected, Saffine finishes her casting, then places a protective spell on the box to keep the contents secured.