You can find a complete list of all Dragon Heist recaps here.
Before going to bed, the party let the offending wererat off with a warning – never cross them again, or he wouldn’t need any ghostly makeup after that… he’d be the real thing.
5th of Ches
At the tenth bell of the next morning, right on time, Tally arrived at Trollskull Manor to figure out the party’s furniture needs. Zherxus was the only one awake.
“I should get Rylderin for you,” he mused. Then, with incredible thaumaturgical amplification, he shouted, “HEY RYLDERIN! THE FURNITURE GUY IS HERE!” The whole house shook a little, and there was the loud thump of a Rylderin-sized body falling out of bed.
As everyone else started their mornings, Rylderin and Tally walked through the house, discussing the furniture the companions (or at least Rylderin) wanted and where it should go. When they got to the basement, Tally was alarmed to see the skeleton in the corner.
“Uhhh, you know you have a corpse there?”
“It’s not really a corpse… corpses are more fleshy,” said Rylderin.
Tally grimaced. “Right.”
After they were done, Rylderin tracked down a Messenger Guild runner in the streets of Trollskull Alley and paid them two silver pieces to express deliver their message to the Cassalanters. The messenger set off at a run.
Rylderin, Zherxus, and Ermie then debated their next steps. While there was a lot going on, there wasn’t really a venture that explicitly promised money. They discussed going down to the docks to look into the identity of the Harbormaster (whose might have been tied into the Furniture Heist in some way) and check out Zardoz Zord’s carnival.
While this was going on, though, Clinks – who was upstairs – was extremely perturbed to received a written message delivered directly into his mind. The message read: “I am Vajra Safahr, the Blackstaff. Come to Blackstaff Tower in the Castle Ward at once. Bring your friends.”
Clinks could intuit from the spell that had brought this message that he could reply, and did so with, “I only know of you. We will come. Cautiously.”
As the other companions were discussing plans, Clinks quickly wrote down the jist of what had just occurred, joined them downstairs, and handed them his note. Rylerin and Clinks were deeply concerned that they had gotten the attention of the Blackstaff; Ermie thought it was fun. One point of concern was the fact that the spell most likely used to send Clinks the message required that the sender be familiar in some way with the subject. The companions quickly decided that going to Blackstaff Tower should be their first order of business, and headed there immediately.
When they arrived at the tower and could see the faint, shimmering field that surrounded it. This was helped by the fact that some bones were suspended in the energy field around the tower. A sign in front of the field told visitors to go away unless they had business there. A smaller sign underneath said that if they DID have business, they should speak what it was.
Rylderin cleared their throat and spoke up, “We are…” then stopped dead. Then they urgently whispered to the companions, “Oh shit, do we have a name?” They were met with blank stares and/or silence.
“We are the new owners of Trollskull Manor!” she proclaimed. “We are here to see the Blackstaff.”
A few seconds after that pronouncement, a portion of the field peeled itself away from the ground, receding upwards to form an open arch. The party cautiously made their way through it and up the stairs to the tower, where the door opened before them.
In the foyer was a dark-skinned woman carrying a black staff. She introduced herself as Vajra, the Blackstaff, and ushered them all upstairs to talk. As they mounted the stairs, she turned back and smirked. “Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble.”
“What, who, us?” said Rylderin. “Of course not, why would we?”
As they climbed, the party could easily see that the interior of Blackstaff tower was much, much larger on the inside than the outside. Numerous other staircases existed further back in a hallway that could never have fit inside the physical footprint of the building.
“Why me?” asked Clinks in someone else’s voice, referring to the Sending they’d received.
As they finished climbing to the second floor, the Blackstaff turned to face Clinks. “You all saved Renaer, who is a friend of mine. Thank you. I am grateful for your efforts there. After hearing of this, I did some research on you all. I sent you the message because I am familiar with your order and its efforts, and I thought you might be the most receptive to my offer.”
With the news that Safar knew of their monkish order, Clinks’ usual swaying, half-drunk demeanor dropped away. For the first time since they had met Clinks, the companions saw them extremely and obviously focused.
The Blackstaff nodded to acknowledge Clinks’ concern and said, “Please, all of you. Join me for some refreshments, and then we can talk.” She then led the companions into a side room near the stairs.
Inside was an extremely well-appointed sitting room. A buffet table was laid out with napkins, plates, an a wide selection of fruit. Zherxus was first to the table, and immediately tried chewing on one of the napkins. It was some of the highest quality textile he’d ever sampled.
“This is good stuff!” he said.
“ZHERxus!” whispered Rylderin urgently as they came over and grabbed some fruit. “Don’t eat the napkins!”
Once everyone was seated, the Blackstaff laid out her offer. She had a force of experienced adventurers under her command called Force Grey, as well as a group of less-experienced adventurers called the Grey Hands. While Force Grey was only called upon when Waterdeep was in grave danger, the Grey Hands were the Blackstaff’s eyes, ears, and hands in the city. They would often take charge of tasks that needed doing for the good of the city… and, it was implied, that the Blackstaff could not necessarily get directly involved in. Adventurers that proved themselves in the Grey Hands would gain invites to Force Grey. She then offered them a place in the Grey Hands.
“Do we get badges?” asked Ermie.
The Blackstaff grinned. “Yes.”
When asked about the remuneration they might expect, Safar explained that while there wouldn’t be much cash forthcoming, that there were other benefits of belonging to the Grey Hands, including the Blackstaff’s patronage and possible help in times of crisis.
After a brief conversation, the crew decided they would all become members of the Grey Hands. When asked if there was anything she needed done right now, the Blackstaff grinned again. “As it so happens, yes.”
“At the top of Mount Waterdeep, there lives a man named Hlam. He’s a spiritual aesthetic, and in his communion with the spirits he sometimes learns useful things. We try to send agents up there to meet with him on occasion to see what he might have learned. Most of the time it is useless until after the fact, but on occasion it can be extremely valuable.”
Soon, the group found itself at the foot of Mount Waterdeep. Two ascents presented themselves – one quite difficult but direct, the other a more meandering set of trails that looked much easier but slower. They opted to take the direct route.
After a very tiring climb (after which Ermie was somewhat exhausted), they began to walk the path leading to the nearby cave where Hlam was supposed to be. Unfortunately, no one noticed the three ambushing giant spiders until it was too late.
The first spider, quick as lightning, scuttled up to Rylderin and bit them hard. The combination of the bite itself and the poison it contained, Rylderin dropped to the ground, twitching. From the other side, another bit Zherxus so hard that he almost collapsed as well.
The companions fought back hard, but things looked extremely bleak – until Hlam showed up. Within moments the monk had brought down two of the spiders. The party made quick work of the third.
Hlam apologized for the behavior of his “neighbors” while healing them with divine magics, and then invited them into his retreat to rest. The companions gladly took him up on the offer.
While inside, Hlam was glad to try to commune with the spirits and see if they had any advice to offer. He settled into a meditative pose and then, with an other-worldly voice, uttered, “The flying snake has split in two. From behind his unseen wall, evil’s twin shall rear his head before summer’s end.”
After resting and recovering from their ordeal, the companions climbed back down Mount Waterdeep and returned to Blackstaff Tower. Inside, they met Vajra again.
Vajra mused over the old monk’s words for a few moments, then thanked them for their efforts. She noted that, should they ever find themselves in trouble with the Waterdeep authorities, she would do her best to intervene… but just once. She also indicated she would be in touch when she had more work for them.
“Wait, don’t we get badges?” asked Ermie.
Then, badges in hand, the crew made their way tiredly home.
6th of Ches
That night, about three bells into the new day, Ermie was awoken by a mewing sound from the foot of his bed. Sitting up, he saw a white cat in front of him. To his surprise, it then opened its mouth and in a male voice said, “Interested in joining the Emerald Enclave? Come meet us at Phaulkonmere in the Southern Ward.”
Ermie had herd of the Emerald Enclave – a group of mostly rangers and druids that worked to safeguard the natural balance of the world and to protect innocents from unnatural things. He was definitely interested in meeting these folks – but since it was three in the morning, he went back to sleep.
In the morning, realizing that the workers would need to start fixing up the basement, Rylderin went down there to shift the location of Lif’s remains. Before touching them, she spoke to the empty room. “OK, I’m going to just shift you a little bit, so the workers don’t bother you…”
Before her, the skull rose up from the ground and turned to face her. Then it continue to rise as the rest of the skeleton assembled itself, and the skeleton then walked itself over to the other side of the room.
“Uhh,” said Rylderin, “if you want to hop up on that cask there…”
The skeleton levitated into the air and landed lightly on top of the cask.
With that, Rylderin exited the basement and went looking for the construction foreman. She found him upstairs in the house, following the ghost pacification protocols they companions had laid out for them.
He stood with a hammer in his hand and nail ready to go, talking into thin air. “Ok, so I’m about to hammer this nail into the wall to help repair this room! I’m definitely not destroying anything!”
“Hey!” said Rylderin. I wanted to let you know, when you start work in the basement, there’s a skeleton down there.”
“You have a corpse in your basement?” He didn’t seen put off by this revelation, but more like he wanted to make sure he had the facts correct.
“I don’t know that corpse is the right word… corpses are fleshy.”
“Urhm. Skeleton, then?”
“Yeah! The house really likes that skeleton, so I recommend very strongly that no one mess with it.”
“Got it.” The foreman then yelled down the hall, “Hey, Rupert!”
A man stuck his head into the room, “Yeah?”
“Anyone set to work on the basement?”
“OK. Send Sven down there to start. Tell him to not mess with the skeleton.”
“No one likes Sven.” noted the foreman as he turned back to Rylderin.
“Any weird things happen in the house so far?” asked Rylderin.
“Sure, lots. But everyone here was approved for ghost duty, so it’s going ok. Everyone is following instructions.”
At about this point there was a knock at the door – it was a messenger in the livery of House Cassalanter delivering a note for the party.
Soon, the rest of the party were up and about. With nothing going on that morning, some of the group went shopping – Rylderin headed back to the Sea Port near their old apartment and met up with an old acquaintance that was willing to sell her a poisoner’s kit.
Clinks, on his part needed some more upscale clothing. Wandering around looking like a drunken street-dweller worked well in the dock ward, but since they were also working in wealthier areas, he needed to be able to blend in those places as well. He used some of his contacts to find a somewhat sketchy clothier, from whom he bought a nicer set.
Ermie took this time to head down to Phaulkonmere and meet with the mysterious cat-sender. He was able to get directions from passers-by, and found himself down in the dock ward outside a large walled compound. From the gates, the interior grounds looked to be heavily forested, with lush gardens occupying the remaining spaces. The elven guard at the gate asked his business.”
“Hi, I’m Ermie. A cat told me to come here!”
“… a cat.”
“Yep! It asked me if I wanted to join the Emerald Enclave!”
With a sigh, the elf said, “Wait here.”
A few minutes later, the guard returned with a half-elf dressed like a gardener.
The gnome tried again. “Hi, I’m Ermie.”
The half-elf nodded and motioned to the guard to let him in. “Greetings, Ermie.” It was the same voice that the cat had used. The half-elf brought Ermie to walk through the gardens and introduced himself as Melannor Fellbranch, the groundskeeper at Phaulkonmere.
The two talked, and Melannor invited Ermie to become a member of the Emerald Enclave. Ermie immediately said yes. In response, Melannor presented him with a Charm of Restoration. He then also introduced Ermie to Jeryth Phaulkon, a member of that family had become a Chosen of Mielikki and then later ascended to become a demigod. Jeryth was a disembodied voice that spoke from all around to Ermie, welcoming him and noting that he could rely on them for protection in times of need.
Ermie thanked them, and responded that if they needed things done to advance the interests of the Enclave, they should let him know.
“Well, as it turns out…” said Melannor.
Melannor requested that Ermie and his friends, if they were willing, go to investigate reports of an animated scarecrow attacking the farms outside Waterdeep. The scarecrow was killing livestock and wrecking crops. It had not yet attacked any farmers, but it might only be a matter of time. So far the City Watch and the City Guard were not moving to stop the thing.
Ermie said they’d be glad to look into it, and soon took his leave.
Meanwhile, as Clinks returned from getting his new clothing, a paper bird, animated perhaps by some magic, fluttered down next to him at the front door of Trollskull Manor. Unfolding it, the paper said, “Renaer tells me you are a good bet. I bought you tickets to the opera tonight at the Lightsinger Theater in the Sea Ward. If you are interested, meet me at intermission. Private Box C. Formal attire is required for admittance.” The note was signed simply, “Mirt.”
The crew, once everyone had returned, discussed the invite. Clinks noted that they thought their clothier contact could do a formal clothing rental, if they wanted. Given that, the companions decided to attend the event.
The opera, entitled “The Rocks that Grind” was a tortured tragedy sung in Primordial. It details the star-crossed romance of two Earth Elementals, which was wrecked by the machinations of their families and a series of unfortunate misunderstandings. Many of the characters died, with very realistic piles of rubble being left as they passed.
At intermission, the companions met up with Mirt at his box. Mirt was a large human with a giant walrus-style mustache. After some small pleasantries were exchanged, he offered the party a job. If they would go into the infamous Blue Alley and retrieve for him a piece of statuary called the Celestite Unicorn, he would pay them 250 gold pieces to bring it to him.
Unimpressed with his offer, the party countered with a payment of 500 dragons. Mirt laughed loudly and accepted.
After the opera, the companions headed home. As they arrived back at their home, Ermie looked at everyone and said, “Hey. Did any of you also notice the drow watching us from that rooftop?
- My Waterdeep now has a Messenger’s Guild, which runs messages anywhere you like. Made sense.
- After surviving Mount Waterdeep, the party leveled up to 3.
- The fight with the giant spiders was somewhat bonkers. I meant to take out one spider, but had three instead of two. Then the first spider critted on its bite, dropped Rylderin, and just about insta-killed them. The second spider took 95% of Zherxus’ hit points. I decided to have Hlam show up at the top of next round – and then he dropped a 100 hp crit Quivering Palm into a spider. I wish I could roll like this when I was PCing.
- It’s been a great tension to see in the game, that the players – mostly with this personified in Rylderin and Clinks – are extremely cautious about all the attention they’re getting. They are people that want low profiles. The idea of getting summoned by the Blackstaff was extremely alarming.
- A lot of plates are now spinning for the party – and there will be more on the next in-game day. I’m frankly wondering if I can keep this up until Ches 20, when the next phase of things kicks off.