Dragon Heist – Session 7 – Snow Beetles and Sheep

You can find a complete list of all Dragon Heist recaps here.

7th of Ches

As unfortunately as usual, the day began with someone hammering on the front door of Trollskull Manor. Zherxus, as often was the case, gave up first on ignoring it and answered the door.

The figure at the door identified itself as Ivan, and was quite odd – although dressed in homespun, plain clothing he had a silvery mask on that covered almost all of his face. His plain shoes were overly large and served to emphasize that his feet were extremely large for his body.

Ivan had a pile of scrolls in his hands and offered one to Zherxus. “An invitation!” he said in a gravelly voice.

“Are you giving one to those people, too?” asked Zherxus while pointing down the road at the newly occupied priory.

Although he couldn’t see it, Zherxus could almost feel the strange man’s grin. “I’m FROM there.”

Zhexus thought about this for a second. “Oh”.

After the man left, Zherxus got Babe to open the scroll (being slightly concerned that it contained and exploding glyph). Babe read it out loud.

“Greetings,

You are cordially invited to attend a housewarming party in honor of the Lady Boguescu’s arrival in the City of Splendors. I would consider it the highest honor if you would join us this evening for dining, drinks, and dance. The festivities begin at sunset.

Your humble servant,

Lazlo Lukresh
Seneshal to Lady Boguescu”

As the rest of the party awakened and joined Babe and Zherxus in the taproom, they realized that this new social event was starting at the exact same time as their coffee with the Cassalanters. But looking the the Boguescu invite, they figured they could show up fashionably late – it said it only started at sundown, and that there would be dancing and drinks. It would likely still be in full swing when they arrived.

Since they had lots of time before their evening appointments, they decided to go to Underhill and investigate the scarecrow attacks. Ermie had been asked by Melannor Fellbranch to investigate them the day before.

The crew headed towards the High Road to then go south to the River Gate, but found their way blocked by a giant multi-ward pig race. The road was blocked off for the most part (although people were risking life and limb to cross over) and pig riders on boar-sized pigs were thundering down the road from north to south. Clinks immediately resolved to take the crew by side streets – but before they went, Babe and Zherxus found a bookie and placed a bet on a pig Babe thought looked like it could place. He got 3:1 odds from the bookie.

Once they managed to get out of the city, the trip out to Stoutfellow Farm (where the scarecrow had been last sighted) was quick. The farm was a bustling, busy place with halflings running about everywhere. Once there, they quickly were able to find the owners – a husband and wife pair of halflings named Jack and Mary Stoutfellow. They were excited and relieved to see someone prepared to help them – they explained that the attacking scarecrow had been destroying their grapes and even tried to destroy one of the grape-stomping vats.

Zherxus asked if the Stoutfellows had any business competitors. They replied that their biggest competitors were the Snobeedles, whose much larger farm was just up the road.

The companions took a thorough look around – they talked to a worker named Eva that had witnessed the scarecrow attacking the vat the other night, they checked for tracks, and they examined the evidence of the attacks.

Babe, with Rylderin’s help, ended up tracking the scarecrow’s tracks back to the road, at which point the tracks headed off north. That did happen to be the same direction as the Snobeedle farm, but that alone was of course not proof of anything.

The crew then headed north to the Snobeedle Orchard and Meadery. It was a huge affair with a music venue, large beer-hall, and a spa. As they arrived, nobility were entering and leaving the place.

“Maaayyyybe the Stoutfellows are too small for these folks to worry about?” noted Zherxus.

The crew headed into the beer-hall and were greeted by one of three extremely wholesome and cheerful halflings waiting there.

“Hi! Welcome to Snobeedle Orchard and Meadery!” she said energetically. “How can I help you today?”

Babe explained that they were here to talk business. The young woman told him that he’d want to talk to Blossom Snobeedle, and to please wait while she went and got her. Shortly, a relatively young halfling woman came out from the back offices and invited them in to talk business.

Babe drawlingly introduced himself to Blossom as an agent for a consortium of hill-town halfling clans that were distillers. He was there, he said, to try to source grapes for them to buy as they experimented on creating new kinds of hard liquor.

Blossom was more than happy to look at selling the grapes, and wanted to know details for what they proposed – but Babe put her off, saying that he was here to look around and take stock of the quality of various suppliers. He asked if it was possible for them to get a tour around the farm.

Blossom was more than happy to oblige, and told the front-hall staff bring the party to one of the farmers to show off their growing practices. Clinks and Zherxus decided to stay in the drinking hall while Babe, Rylderin, and Ermie took the tour.

The farmer giving the tour knew his business – he discussed the techniques the Snobeedles used to cultivate their grapes in great detail. While he talked, the crew was looking around at the various structures, trying to get an idea of which, if any, might be hiding scarecrows.

As the tour concluded, Babe asked if it would be possible for them to wander the grounds a bit.

“No, sorry,” said the farmer. “That’d be my job if I let you.” He explained that they had a lot of nobles visiting here, and the rules were strict in order to keep them from accidentally disrupting the farm.

“Well,” said Babe while casting a Suggestion spell, “why don’t you go take care of your work and let us wander the grounds for a while?”

“Sounds good!” said the farmer, and he promptly left them to their own devices.

Rylderin immediately took the lead in investigating the structures around the farm. Once or twice they had to avoid various farm workers while looking around, but managed to avoid getting caught. Eventually, Ryldering found a barn that was decidedly different from the rest – it had a new door on it, a chain, and a pair of good locks.

After quickly picking the locks on the door, Rylderin opened it – and a scarecrow jumped out of the shadows to attack her.

Meanwhile, unaware of what was going on out on the farm, Zherxus and Clinks remained at the mead-hall. Clinks was busy pretending to be drunk and reproducing the arias they had heard at the opera the other night. Zherxus had been in the gift shop for a while, but emerged when Blossom came out from the back office for something.

“Hey!” exclaimed Zherxus. “You know, there are a lot of things you could improve about your gift shop!”

Blossom’s response included a very plastic smile. “That’s great! We have a suggestion box right there!” she said as she pointed over to the wall.

Zherxus spent the next several minutes scrawling out his suggestions, backed by math and examples.

At the barn, two scarecrows – the one that had leapt at Rylderin and one further behind it – were attacking the party. Rylderin stood athwart the doorway, facing the first scarecrow on the open side and jamming the other side’s door closed with their foot.

Rylderin’s rapier attacks were ineffective – punching tiny holes in something made of straw turned out to be unsurprisingly ineffective. Babe was able to use his music and empowered put-downs to decent effect; but the real power in the fight came from Ermie. From in the back, Ermie used his sorcerous powers to create a fiery chromatic orb; as it hit the scarecrow, it was consumed in the flames and fell over.

Realizing that setting the scarecrows on fire would immolate valuable evidence, Ermie instead used Chaos Bolts to attack the second scarecrow. But his second bolt turned out to be fire – and the second scarecrow was instantly turned into a short-lived torch as well.

As he cast the spell, Ermie then felt a surge of wild magic… and turned into a sheep.

“Nice job, Ermie!” said Rylderin, turning around. “…Ermie?”

“Baaaaaa,” said Ermie.

While Rylderin moved to search the barn, Babe cast speak with animals on himself and began chatting with Ermie.

Inside, Rylderin found a bench with a mixed bunch of arcane implements and mundane scarecrow-making implements. On the floor nearby was a half-created scarecrow.

Rylderin swept all the contents of the workbench into a bag and headed out from the barn. The three headed straight out for the road, looking to come back up the entry path towards the drinking hall.

After receiving a signal from Rylderin that they should come to the road, Zherxus and Clinks got caught up on what had happened.

“Oh,” said Zherxus. “I can dispel that, if he wants. Not sure how to find out what he wants, though, because I don’t speak sheep.”

“Well,” drawled Babe, “I can talk to him.”

“Oh, does he want me to dispel the polymorphing effect?”

Ermie, via Babe, quickly confirmed he did.

“No problem!” Zherxus then hauled out his whip and laid a vicious whip crack down on the sheep. The spell then immediately dropped, leaving a bewildered and slightly whip-sore Ermie sitting on the ground.

“There we go. That’s the goblin method for dispelling polymorphs.”

The companions then headed back to the Stoutfellow Farm to explain what they’d found. After a conversation with the Stoutfellows, they left the couple with enough evidence to go to the guard.

“Oh,” asked Jack, “do you have a group name, so the guard knows who I’m talking about?”

After some hemming and hawing, the group told the Stoutfellows that they were the Trollskull Companions. For all their help, the Stoutfellows rewarded them with a cask of their Stoutfellow Reserve wine.

The crew made their way back to Trollskull Manor, wanting to take a few hours to recover from the morning before heading to coffee with the Cassalanters. But soon after arriving, there was another knock at the door.

Although he resisted doing so for a while, Zherxus finally went and answered the door. At it was a tall human musician with long, flowing hair, a chiselled physique, and teeth far more pearly white than seemed healthy,

“Greetings, friend goblin! My name is Glans Bardly! I’m looking for Babe.”

Zherxus peered unseeingly at the musician. “Hello? Is anyone there?”

“Err… yes! Hello, I am Glans Bardly! I’m here to see Babe! I’m a friend of his!”

“Do.. do I hear something? Is this a spirit at our door?!”

“No! No, I’m right here! My name is Glans Bardly!”

“SPIRIT IF YOU CAN HEAR ME MAKE A SIGN!”

Glans then cautiously poked Zherxus in the shoulder.

“The spirit is getting violent! …wait here, I’ll get Babe.” Then, in a thaumaturgically enhanced voice, he yelled, “BABE YOUR FRIEND IS HERE!”

Babe came downstairs and around to the front entrance to the tap room. “Hi… friend?”

“Indeed!” Glans Bardly’s swagger was back in full force. “I am indeed your friend, since I am the ward representative for the Council of Musicians, Instrument-makers, and Choristers!” His voice got more serious. “And I hear that you, who are NOT a member of our guild, are planning a performance with your band at the Yawning Portal tomorrow night!”

“Band?” said Zherxus.

“Uhh, yeahhh. We are,” said Babe.

“Then I highly suggest you become members of the guild, and post-haste! Musicians that perform outside of the auspices of the guild in Waterdeep tend to have… bad luck.”

“Alrighty then, how much does guild membership cost?”

“10 gold dragons per person, per year. And since your band has five members (correct me if I’m wrong), then that would be 50 gold dragons.”

“Alrighty.” Babe looked around at the rest of the crew, somewhat concerned. “Can any of you lend me some cash?”

Ermie was happy to distribute some of Babe’s funds from the party coffers… or rather, the various potted plants and trees that Ermie had buried the money in, up in his indoor garden on the upper floors.

After handing the soil-covered money over to Glans, the guild rep congratulated Babe on his new membership, gave him five guild pins, and wished him the best of luck with their first performance.

Babe then explained to the crew that, over the last couple days when he hadn’t been around much, he’d been putting together a jug band. They had musicians on washboard (Himo Holimion), upright base (Vola), harmonica (Shin Chao), jug (Rukh), and had Babe on banjo. He’d even gotten a manager, a high elf he had met named Davil Starsong.

After Glans had gone his merry way, Rylderin asked Clinks if they’d noticed any drow lurking near Trollskull. Clinks indicated no.

The party also took a few moments to consider making their own pins for the Trollskull Company.

After that, everyone except Clinks prepared for and headed out for coffee with the Cassalanters. Clinks, on the other hand, moved up to the garret tower of the manor an waited for nightfall, watching the skyline.

The rest of the party arrived easily on time for coffee at the Wafting Beverage, a very upscale coffeehouse in the Sea Ward. The host as the front desk gave them the hairy eyeball when they arrived – they were obviously not the usual clientele – but backed off on the disdain when they said who they were there to meet. The host then had them brought to a private back room which was empty except for them. Rylderin made a point to watch Zherxus and make sure he didn’t eat any napkins.

The Cassalanters arrived a fashionably late. The pair swanned into the room, the picture of Waterdavian nobility – but with a genteel and civil air that nobles, in Rylderin’s experience, didn’t necessarily show to their social inferiors.

“Thank you, all of you, for coming!” gushed Amalia. “You have done us a great service with your help at the warehouse.”

As the Cassalanters seated themselves, Rylderin fell over themself with flattery and praise for the nobles. Rylderin explained how they were more than happy to help, to contribute in any small way to stopping what was obviously a deep and nefarious plot against them.

The Cassalanters then explained to the party that their actions had stopped a ring of thieves from stealing a crate of extremely valuable gems from them. The ruse, as far as they were able to discern, had been that the thieves had themselves stolen a shipment of silk from customs – and then had impersonated the Harbormaster and approached the Cassalanters. The fake Harbormaster met the Cassalanters at “his home” – which had turned out to be quickly furnished sham home. This is why the thieves had needed all the furniture from Tally.

At the meeting, the fake Harbormaster had told the nobles that he wanted to put his crack team of customs agents on the job instead of handing this off to the city watch – the watch, he had said, might be involved in the theft. The Cassalanters agreed.

The thieves then returned the silks they had stolen directly to the Cassalanter warehouse. The whole charade, it turned out, had been perpetrated to gain access to the warehouse and steal the crate of gems.

Rylderin then thanked the Cassalanters for thanking them, and offered that they’d be happy to be of service again.

The Cassalanters said they would be more than happy to keep this in mind, and presented gifts to the players as a token of their thanks. There were three rewards. The first was one of the gems from the cache, a fine large emerald worth a couple hundred gold dragons. The second was the use, at a time and place that the party saw fit, of five Cassalanter guardsmen. The third was a set of magical stones engraved with the symbol of House Cassalanter. The stones were a modified set of Sending Stones – if you had one of the set, you could send a magical message instantly to all others in possession of the stones. Each of those people, in return, could then send a reply to all the possessors of the stones.

The Cassalanters then thanked the party one more time and excused themselves – they had another pressing engagement, but had been unwilling to skip out on the companions. On the way out, the nobles spoke to the server, who then reported that the Cassalanters were covering whatever the crew wanted to eat and drink.

They ordered a large number of tasty hors d’oeuvres to go. Zherxus also was able to obtain a large quantity of used coffee grounds, which he then ate by the handful. Then they all headed back to Trollskull Manor to prepare for their second outing of the night.

Meanwhile, Clinks had been sitting guard in the garret at the manor. Their perseverance and perception were rewarded when he spotted a figure on the rooftop directly to the north of the manor. He never would have seen the figure there, except that some odd (possibly magical) fire lit up behind the figure for a moment, illuminating them from behind.

Clinks then sped down stairs and, as stealthily as they could, out to the street. They raced across the way, vaulted their way up the building to the roof, and peered up over the ledge at where the person had been.

There was no person there, but something else was stuck into the roof. When Clinks went over to examine it, they found a dagger stuck into the roof. Speared by the dagger was a black eyepatch.

Clinks concluded that someone was trying to send them a message. They took the dagger and the eyepatch and headed back to the manor.

Soon the companions were all reunited. Clinks showed the eyepatch to their fellows, but no one had any clues as to its significance.

GM Notes

  • I had planned that the Boguescu party and Cassalanter coffee would force the party to make a hard choice – I assumed they would split up – but instead they decided that the former would be going long enough to not present a timing issue. Fair enough! Going to roll with that.
  • I love that Clinks has the Urchin background and can lead them all through the city super fast. I now just throw stuff into their way (like the pig racing) just so they can use it and feel good about life.
  • Zherxus landed a 4 damage hit on Ermie – and a sheep has 3 hit points. So, having run out of sheep hitpoints, Ermie was then turned back to his original form… with a 1 hitpoint damage sting to go with it. Ermie’s player almost fell out of his chair laughing.
  • The Cassalanters are playing a long game here – they figure into the main plot of DH in a big way, as we will see. The sending stones they gave the party actually have a 6th member of the set… which one of the Cassalanters has on them.

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