You can find a complete list of all Dragon Heist recaps here.
As everyone woke up from their first night in Trollskull manor, they were greeted by the sound of sustained clattering and banging on the second floor.
Babe had apparently left the house earlier that morning, but Clinks, Rylderin, and Ermie all went to investigate – albeit with some grumbling from Rylderin about not getting to have breakfast before dealing with things. On the second floor they found Zherxus wandering distractedly in the still-cluttered hallway while collecting bits of detritus.
Zherxus was responding to queries distractedly, not really paying attention to his companions. When asked, he would just mutter about needing to make a thing, and that he needed materials. After Ermie asked him a few more questions, Zherxus blinked, looked at him, and then asked if he could have Ermie’s belt pouch. Ermie, after a few seconds of consideration said, “Sure!” and handed it over. Zherxus took it and his other finds, went back into his room, and locked the door.
While this was going on, Clinks had left the other two to talk with Zherxus and went to check on a hunch that Zherxus was perhaps in some way being influenced by the spirit that haunted Trollskull Manor. They climbed back up into the tower garret, and were again greeted by a feeling of intense cold, one that they believed was associated with the spirit’s presence.
In the garret, they found a wooden bedframe (sans mattress) and a small end-table. Opening the end table revealed a small journal – and as Clinks opened the drawer, the window directly behind them began to rattle and then open. And as Clinks picked up the journal from the drawer, the end table that had contained it flew up into the air and straight at them.
Clinks dropped immediately prone, and the end table flew straight out the window – likely it would have taken them right with it if they hadn’t gotten out of the way.
Downstairs, Rylderin and Ermie heard a loud crash out on the road, and went out to find a puzzling sight – a smashed up end table that appeared to have been thrown out from the garret tower window. Wanting to keep the neighborhood clean, Ermie collected the pieces – and at Rylderin’s suggestion, left them outside Zherxus’ room and let him know they’d brought some more materials for his work.
Back inside, Clinks let them know that they’d recovered the journal and that the crash had likely been caused by the spirit. The journal was written in Elven (which happily both Ermie and Rylderin knew), and they began to read it.
The journal was the work of an elf named Lif, who looked to have been the owner of Trollskull Manor somewhere between forty and eighty years ago, and was likely the last owner to live there prior to the party coming into possession of the house. Skimming through the journal, it was easy to see that Lif had loved the building dearly and had put his heart and soul into making it the best inn they could. The journal also revealed a dark past to the house – prior to Lif’s purchase, it had been an orphanage… but the woman running it had turned out to be a hag that was cooking at eating the children. Lif, in his journal, was adamant that he would help redeem the building from its history.
After reading the journal, the party discussed things and decided there was a good chance Lif had possessed Zherxus, and that they needed to intervene. Rylderin picked the lock to Zherxus’ room and they let themselves in.
They found Zherxus working quickly and expertly to build… something. He had taken the wood he’d gathered earlier and was carving it expertly with a dagger, and then with strips of leather cut from Ermie’s pouch, was binding the various pieces together. He kept flitting from one chunk of work to the next, so it was hard to tell what the final assembled object(s) might be.
Rylderin, after watching Zherxus for a bit, inserted themself into his workflow, picking up pieces as he needed them and handing them over. Zherxus ignored Rylderin, simply taking the offered items and continuing to work. Rylderin then experimented with not giving over an item, and instead keeping it out of the goblin’s reach. Zherxus made a couple grabs for the piece of wood and, after failing to get it, sighed and moved on to a different part of his project.
While watching their goblin companion work, Clinks realized that their room wasn’t any colder than the rest of the house. They then went off and explored the house, seeing if they could find any other area that did have that tell-tale sign of the spirit’s presence. Eventually Clinks went into the ale cellar and found an area of intense cold – a spot in one corner where a beam had collapsed near an old ale cask. Under the beam was the skeleton of an elf.
Clinks investigated the corpse – it could indeed be Lif’s based on what they could tell. They also examined the fallen beam, which didn’t look like it had been sabotaged… instead, it looked like a bit of tragically shoddy construction.
It was at this point that the companions heard a loud and insistent knocking at their front door. Ermie went to get it, and found a half-elf who introduced himself as Talisolvanar Fellbranch – but his friends called him Talisolvanar “Tally” Fellbranch. Tally was a gruff and business-like carpenter that owned the Bent Nail, a shop in the neighborhood that made wooden furniture. And Tally needed their help. After locking Zherxus back in his room, they went down to the taproom to listen.
As the companions gathered to listen, Tally explained their problem. A couple weeks ago an elven woman that called herself Stoe Wildcutter came to his shop and paid in cash for a large selection of furniture to be made under a tight deadline. The furniture was to be delivered to a manor in the Sea Ward.
Tally and his crew pulled a number of pieces from his warehouse in the Dock Ward and worked around the clock for two weeks to create the rest. It was all delivered on time to the manor house. But then, a bit more than a day after it was delievered, a fat and pompous human merchant showed up at Tally’s shop, screaming that his new house was full of Tally’s furniture, and that he had to get it out immediately. The merchant had apparently identified Tally as the creator of the furniture from the maker’s mark he embossed on all his works.
Tally was forced to go and retrieve all the furniture at his own expense… and on coming back to his shop found that his lockbox – which contained the money from the job and then some – had been stolen from the store.
Now Tally was in a bind – he was out a huge amount of money and had a huge surplus of furniture to boot. He offered to the party that if they could recover his money, he’d be happy to deck out Trollskull Manor entirely with new furniture.
Ermie and Rylderin were excited by this chance – Trollskull desperately needed a make-over, and Rylderin was wincing at what it would cost. They asked Tally a lot of questions about the elf and the furniture order, and assured Tally that they would do their best to get his money back.
As Tally left, Clinks indicated what they’d found in the basement by gesturing downwards and, mimicking a voice that sounded like a gravelly bard telling a ghost-story, intoning, “BOOOOOOoooooones!”. But just as the companions were about to head downstairs to look at the remains, there was a second set of insistent knocks at their door.
Now more exasperated (and still wanting to have breakfast), they opened the door to find a massive human man that identifed himself as Emmek Frewn , the owner of Frewn’s Brews across the street. Frewn immediately got onto their bad side by first threatening them if they tried to compete with his tavern, then offering to buy the place from them for a meager one hundred gold dragons, and finally by grimly proclaiming that they were sure to have their collective heads eaten by the ghost that haunts their house.
At the end of the conversation, Rylderin finally lost patience with Frewn and physically tried to turn him around and away from their door. Frewn slapped their hands away – but retreated as Clinks then reached for one of their boomerangs. He left, muttering imprecations under his breath.
After a brief triage, the companions decided that their best course of action was to a) have breakfast and b) head towards the Sea Ward manor where Tally had delivered the furniture and search for clues.
The party made its way to the Sea Ward – a much more upscale section of the city than the Northern Ward where Trollskull was located. The Sea Ward was where you went to build or buy a mansion, and was filled with the abodes of nouveau riche merchants and nobles. Clinks (whose appearance was purposefully that of a drunken beggar) felt acutely out of place.
As they approached their destination, they observed a man fitting the description of the pompous merchant Tally had described. He was at that moment yelling at a pair of long-suffering tradesmen working on his roof, insulting them and their work and demanding that they get things right this time.
Clinks fell back to stand near an alley while Rylderin and Ermie moved up to talk to the merchant. Rylderin, knowing her audience, started the conversation by simply moving up near the man and making appreciative noises about their home. It was easy to get the merchant then talking about their new home – but sadly the discussion didn’t yield much in the way of useful information.
Clinks, on the other hand, noticed some stacks of garbage and such in the alley next to the house. After searching it a bit, they found a note from one member of the crew to another named Heian. It said that the new owners of the house were moving in earlier than they’d planned, and they needed to clear out as soon as possible and head back to the hideout near the Blue Alley.
Although Rylderin needed their memory jogged, they all had heard of the Blue Alley. Built out with bright blue cobblestones and walls, the area called the Blue Alley contained a magical portal that took the brave and foolhardy into a small maze created by an unknown wizard. Within were rumored to be traps, tricks, and treasure.
At this point, Ermie mooted the idea half-jokingly that maybe they could just pay Tally the three hundred gold from their funds, and buy the furniture straight-up. After some small consideration, the crew headed towards the Blue Alley (which also happened to be in the Sea Ward).
Once at the alley, though, the party had some trouble in trying to figure out where the hideout might be. At one point they considered even entering the Blue Alley itself – but quickly decided that it would not have been a smart choice on the part of the thieves. Looking around they spotted an inn named Not the Blue Alley Tavern, and entered in search of information.
Ermie was thrilled to see a gnome behind the bar – and remarkably, they were as tall as a human! After a brief conversation with her (Iyiss Tavartarr) and some exchanged gold, they learned that the woman they were looking for was actually named Saevel Braegen, and that she and her companions likely lived in the third floor apartment across the street.
After finding a fire escape at the back of the building, they decided that Clinks would sneak up to reconnoiter. They did so, and after hearing no one inside, waved the rest of the team up. Unable to properly interpret his waving from below, though, Rylderin and Ermie thought their kenku companion was in trouble – and moved quickly (and loudly) up to assist. Happily, there was no reaction from inside the apartment, and they proceeded to explore it.
In the apartment they found what amounted to an operations center for the thieves – it had maps, numerous documents, a waste basket full of draft copies of a message, and a lock box. Clinks easily opened the lock box and secured not only Tally’s money, but some extra besides, as well as a couple gems.
Rylderin worked on reading through the various papers. Looking through it all, the pieces of the thieves’ plan rapidly came together. The thieves had stolen a shipment of silks headed to House Cassalanter, a powerful Waterdavian noble house, from customs at the docks. They then approached the Cassalanters, posing as the Tren Elfsinger, the Harbormaster of Waterdeep, and offered to have customs agents retrieve the silks. Their plan was then to return the “found” shipment in order to gain access to the Cassalanter Warehouse in the Dock Ward… where they planned to make off with a small crate of extremely valuable gems.
Armed with this knowledge, the party planned to head to the Cassalanter warehouse as fast as possible. Before leaving, though, Ermie used his sorcerous powers to create a gust of wind to scatter all the desk papers and hopefully obscure the fact that they had taken a number of the pages as evidence of the scheme.
Clinks, using the hard-won knowledge of the city that they’d gained as a fledgling, was able to quickly guide them through the city’s back roads and get them quickly to the warehouse. The crew came around the side of the building and walked right into a set of guards at the front entrance.
“Woah, hey, what are you bunch doing?” asked the startled guard.
“We’re here to pick up the silks!” chirped Ermie with his best smile.
“Pick up… the silks…” The guard eyed Ermie up and down, as well as Rylderin who was just joining them.
“Yep!” said Rylderin.
In the back, Clinks gave a very avian sigh.
The guard – who was aware that the silks in question had just been returned to the warehouse – was incredibly sceptical. The companions, however, were able to convince him to get his boss out here. When the guard captain arrived, they fessed up that the “pick up the silks” thing was bogus, but explained how they’d been on the trail of these thieves and had evidence that they were using the silks to gain entrance to the warehouse, where they expected the thieves were trying to make off with a bigger prize.
The guard captain, looking at the documents they’d brought from the hideout, became more alarmed by the second. Finally, eyes wide, he yelled to his guards to keep an eye on the party and ran back into the warehouse.
A scant thirty seconds later there was a loud commotion from the northern side of the warehouse, around the corner from the main entrance. The guards and the party ran up and around to find three people running full-tilt from the warehouse, being chased by guards. The one person was a large man dressed like a magistrate; the other two were scruffier types in the livery of the Harbor’s custom agents. One of the “agents” had a small box tucked under his arm.
Before anyone else could react, Clinks charged drunkenly forward, slamming himself and his club repeatedly into the man with the box. Clinks’ attacks left the man reeling, and he was almost immediately then brought down by the other guards. In that confusion, the other two thieves were able to make their escape. Clinks pursued far enough to see that they had vanished into the alleys of the Dock Ward.
Afterwards while the guards end up binding the wounds of the downed thief, the captain came over to thank the party. He noted that they had done a great service to House Cassalanter, and asked how they could find the party afterwards to properly thank them. “Oh, we own Trollskull Manor now!” replied Ermie. And with that, the party departed for home.
They arrived home to find a gnome hammering on the front door of Trollskull Manor, yelling, “I just want to get your side of the story!”
Clinks announced their presence from behind with, using the booming voice of an orc, “XANATHAR SENDS HIS REGARDS!”
The gnome lept a few feet in the air, spun around, and shrieked, “I didn’t tell anyone!!” After a moment, though, he recovered his composure and started peppering them with questions. He said he called Clipper and was a reporter for the Waterdeep Wazoo. He’d gotten a tip that the companions had been instrumental in the freeing of Lord Neverember’s son Renaer from the clutches of the Xanathar Guild, and asked why they were now living in Trollskull Manor.
“It’s our hideout!” proclaimed Ermie.
“What are you hiding from?”
The party refused to confirm either way if they’d been involved in Renaer’s rescue. Clipper noted that their mutual friend Volo had told him that they had been grand heroes in the rescue of Renaer and some other guy. At this, the party’s opinion of Volo became somehow even lower.
Ermie tried to foist the reporter off onto Clinks, saying the kenku would be best at explaining everything. This earned Ermie the most reproachful look Clinks could muster. Ermie then tried a different tack – they were all exhausted and didn’t want to talk. Clipper noted that they’d be going to press in a couple hours, but that he’d be happy to come back in the morning.
- I wish I could convey how much fun it is to watch Clinks communicate with the party and NPCs. Clinks’ player keeps a list of interesting things they’ve heard and who said them, and then using their kenku mimicry, repeats chunks of it all back to communicate as needed. They also make up stuff on the fly that they would have heard in the past, before the campaign started. It’s incredibly compelling and often hysterically funny.
- Zherxus’ fit of creativity is actually a divine fit brought on by Meriadar, his god. To communicate directly with Zherxus, the goblin is being inspired to create a statue that will illuminate the nature of the vampire about to move into an abandoned priory at the far end of Trollskull Alley (from the Lady of Trollskull Priory).
- When we got to the thieves’ hideout, I was asked, “Is there a fire escape at the back of the building?” After pausing a second, I noted that while I’d prepared for a number of things for this night, I had really not planned to talk intelligently about Waterdeep’s fire code.
- My eyes went wide when I realized they might try to go into the Blue Alley while looking for the hideout. Not only would it likely have killed them at level 2 and only three people, but I was completely unprepared to run it. Luckily, a few easy Insight checks sorted that out.