Students of Strixhaven EP 7 – Close Encounters

The small gnome, located in this hidden room, continues to shout out into the darkness, clutching for his glasses and calling for someone named “Jeremus”. Edolkar steps forward, and calmly explains he is not Jeremus, but offers to help find the gnome his glasses, finding them on a small side table nearby. Edolkar enquires on why the gnome would live in such a place, especially in the middle of the sewers beneath Candlekeep. The gnome indicates it was not by his design, then prompts Edolkar to confirm who he is and what he is doing down below. Edolkar indicates that they were following rumours of a “closed circuit” sanitation system, and that an Otyugh may be involved, wishing to study it for academic purposes. The gnome offers to provide some first-hand experience for a task if Edolkar and the others are willing to help with a task. As the party introduces themselves, the gnome indicates he is Weetlewort. Weetlewort explains one of his duties down here is to keep the Otyugh, named ‘Otto’, “in-check” and satisfied. A number of sanitation pipes above funnel waste into the sewers, which is then prepared for Otto, though he does also require some other foods which are brought in by hand. He says if the party are willing to carry some supplementary bags of food, he will take them to Otto, and they can get a first-hand interaction with it.

They travel deeper through the sewer systems beneath Candlekeep. The party prompt Weetlewort with some questions, and confirm that the Otyugh serves an import role in Candlekeep’s self-sufficiency practices, so that they don’t need to dump or drop their waste outside the city. Arth enquires on how long he has been doing this job, to which Weetlewort indicates it has been about 5 or 6 years, having worked in the Inner Ward previously, before an incident forced him to work down here as penance. Arth prompts further to see if this is related to a previous Strixhaven-caused incident, but finds Weetlewort quickly changes the subject as they arrive in front of a room which seems to culminate with a number of pipes and channels from above leading into this room.

Opening the door, they see an Otyugh, sleeping soundly in a large pile of waste. A quadruped, the Otyugh has the basic form of a small four-legged mammal, such as a dog or bear, but has protruding tentacle-shaped features sticking out of its back, hosting some sensory organs. The creature’s face is dedicated primarily to rows of razor-sharp teeth. Weetlewort asks Edolkar to gentle place the bags of food they carried in front of Otto, but out of sheer curiosity he hurls the bag, seeing the creature lunge out of the nest and devour the food. Trix and Khorvus try to get some sketches of the creature, and enquire on the secrecy of keeping an Otyugh quiet up above. Weetlewort explains the Avowed try to keep a tight-lip, primarily due to the discomfort that many think of when they consider the creatures, which would go against the reputation of Candlekeep’s prestige. As the Otyugh consumes the bags of food, the party receive the faint signal of a telepathic signal, which repeats a call for more food, more waste, to satisfy the creatures hunger. They interpret that this is coming from Otto, who uses telepathy to indicate its desires. Once the creature finishes the food, it considers the party and decides not to pursue them as a snack, digging itself back into the trash.

Edolkar notices that the puddle Arth is standing on is beginning to take form. He shouts a warning so that Arth can step back, narrowly avoiding an attack from an Ooze. At the same time, a Carrion Crawler begins a descent down from the ceiling. Weetlewort indicates these creatures are not part of the closed circuit system, and asks if they could remove the pests, before running off to safety behind a locked door. The party enter into combat.

In round one, Darius enters a panic, casting a Shield spell on himself. The Carrion Crawler moves to attack Arth, but misses. Trix launches and attacks the Ooze with her rapier, but finds as the blow hits her sword begins to corrode. Arth moves to reassure Darius, inspiring him and casting Heroism to bolster his confidence. Edolkar lunges towards the Carrion Crawler, making a reckless attack, but fails spectacularly. Khorvus also moves to strike the Carrion Crawler, landing a successful blow and dealing extra damage with use of Divine Smite. The Crawler attacks towards Edolkar, and becomes paralysed from its poison tip. As the round ends, a second Ooze begins to form from the puddle on the ground.

Now inspired, Darius launches a fireball at an Ooze and singes it. The Carrion Crawler strikes toward Trix, but fails. Trix, angered from her rapier being corroded, moves to a distance and switches to her bow, striking true. The Ooze deconstructs as the arrow lands and destroys it. Arth scrounges around for a rock, and hits the newly-formed Ooze. Through sheer rage alone, Edolkar is able to break himself from his paralysis. Khorvus swings his war hammer at the Carrion Crawler again, landing another successful blow. The Crawler attempts to strike but Khorvus dodges with his shield. The remaining Ooze tries to strike at Khorvus, but also fails.

In round three, Darius launches another fireball at the Ooze, while Trix fires another arrow. Arth moves into melee range with the Carrion Crawler, swinging his sword but misses. Having recovered from his paralysis, he makes a savage attack and squashes the crawler into the floor. With the ooze being the only threat remaining, Khorvus swings his war hammer at the creature, obliterating it. As the hit lands, the weapon corrodes.

With the threats removed, the party move to the exit and shout for Weetlewort to let them out. As he unlocks the door, Edolkar strides up and lifts the gnome up with one hand, expressing his discomfort with being locked in the room. As he places him down, Weetlewort begrudgingly thanks them, muttering towards a previous experience with Strixhaven students. Arriving back at Weetlewort’s abode, he begins to bid them farewell. Just before they leave, Arth enquires above the “previous experience” he had with Strixhaven students. Weetlewort explains that several years ago, he worked in the library up above. A young Strixhaven student used a charm spell on him, gained access, and stole a restricted book on life-draining magic. For his part, Weetlewort was sent to the sewers to oversee the Otyugh. He explains the student was a Bullywog named Murgaxor, from the Witherbloom campus. Last he heard, the student was expelled from Strixhaven for using the forbidden magic on a fellow student. Weetlewort departs back to his room behind the false-wall, while the students walk back to their study room in the Pillars above. On the way, Khorvus uses Lay on Hands to heal Edolkar’s wounds.

Once they arrive back at their study room, they continue to take notes on their borrowed books. Khorvus offers to repair Trix’s rapier, which was corroded during the fight. He indicates that his mother is a blacksmith, in the Triton stronghold of Levinas. As he exists the walls of Candlekeep, he walks into the depths of the water, blowing his conch three times. A forward scout of Levinas hears the summons, and approaches, greeting him in the name of Persana. Khorvus indicates he is on an important mission in the world above, and requests the scout take his weapon and Trix’s rapier, and to give them to his mother, who should be able to repair them. The scout takes them, swimming off to Levinas somewhere in the depths below. Khorvus returns to Candlekeep a short time later, completing his previous sketching of the words above Candlekeep’s doors. As the party finish up for the day, Arth reviews the remainder of the sketching, and casts another Comprehend Languages spell. With the full text, it translates to:

Guard these walls from entry means, whether by magic, flight or unforeseen.

The next day, as they prepare to depart back to Strixhaven in the afternoon, Khorvus goes back to the coastal waters to reclaim his weapons from the forward scout. He finds the weapons have been given a slight flair, with Trix’s rapier hilt containing an insignia of Persana. Meanwhile, the rest of the party check in with Saffine to see how her recovery work in the garden is going. Edolkar also enquires if Saffine knows about a former student named Murgaxor. She remembers the bullywog was in her year and attended some Witherbloom classes, before being expelled for casting a forbidden life-draining spell on a student.

In the afternoon, the Strixhaven students, along with Nils and Arkin, walk to an open field outside the gates of Candlekeep in preparation for departure. As Arkin finishes the Gate spell, the students walk back through to the demiplane of Strixhaven.