Part two of our campaign journal for the Alexandrian Remix of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist…
Spoiler Alert: What follows is a record of our game. It pre-supposes some familiarity with both the original adventure and the remix, but you shouldn’t have any trouble following along even if you haven’t played either. However, if you are planning on playing Dragon Heist in the future you should probably stop reading now.
Session II: Monday, 1st of Ches, Evening
Meeting Captain Staget
The Dock Ward’s streets are lined with dilapidated tenements, careworn shop fronts, and ramshackle warehouses.
Waterdeep’s ubiquitous gas lamps mark each intersection. However, most have had their glass smashed and their wicks stolen, leaving the streets dark.
As Rheis and Qi’da turn a corner, they are confronted by a constable of the Watch. Behind the constable, six corpses lay strewn about on the cobblestones. A half-dozen more officers and their captain are questioning three manacled prisoners, who are sitting with their backs to a wall.
Rheis was a constable for the better part of a year, however, he was stationed in the Sea Ward. As a consequence, he doesn’t know most of the officers in this ward. However, as the constable waves the pair on, Rheis recognizes the captain and calls out “Staget!”
Making his way over, the Captain Staget squints at the duo… “Rice? …no, Rheis. What are you doing here?”
Rheis explains that he is on a manhunt — he wonders if the captain could help?
Staget scoffs at the notion, “The Watch doesn’t have time to look for every lost puppy!” Jerking his thumb over his shoulder, he adds, “With the Xanathar Guild and the Black Network at each other’s throats, I’ve got enough on my plate!”
And with a final admonition to “Keep your noses clean.” he sends Rheis and Qi’da on their way.
As the pair passes nearer the three prisoners, they notice the blood-drenched men each have a black flying snake tattoo; one on his hand and the other two on their upper arms.
Meeting Old Xoblob
Leaving the crime scene, Rheis and Qi’da trudge on through mud filled streets. By this time, Qi’da is convinced the whole of the Dock Ward stinks of fish and despair.
Then, at the corner of Zastrow and Fillet Lane, the air is suddenly filled with the scent of lavender. A freshly painted facade stands before them. Every board and bit of trim is a different shade of purple and an elaborately carved sign reads “The Old Xobolob Shop: Curios for the Curious.” In the window hangs a taxidermied beholder — its central eye has been replaced with what appears to be a massive amethyst.
On a whim, the pair open the shop’s door and walk in.
The air is hazy with lavender incense and the walls are variously, lilac, mauve, periwinkle and plum. Even the trinkets on the shelves have been dyed purple.
Sitting crosslegged on the counter is an elderly gnome — his cheeks have been painted with nine purple eyes.
“Welcome, welcome, you look like a likely pair! How can I interest you, hmmm?”
“Old Xoblob,” as he introduces himself, “No relation to that stuffed eye tyrant up there!” does his best to tempt Rheis and Qi’da with a number of magenta trinkets, including a pipe that blows purple bubbles.
Demurring, the pair ask him if he saw anything unusual last night.
“I mind my own,” mutters the old man, but Rheis is convinced he knows something and offers him a single gold dragon.
“Well,” says the gnome once he’s made the coin disappear, “I might have seen a scuffle across the way, by the alley. A couple of red-haired gentlemen in fine clothes having a bit of trouble. But I mind my own you see, and I certainly didn’t see no more!”
And with that Old Xoblob ushers them out of the store.
Out on the street, Qi’da searches the mud for any signs of a struggle. And, near the alley’s mouth, she spots a glimmer of silver in the muck — Floon’s unicorn amulet. Lying near it are one or two blue pearls.
Searching a little farther down the alley, the pair discover another pearl — Floon has left them some breadcrumbs!
It is a simple matter to follow the trail of pearls right down Candle Alley.
Fighting the Kenku
A final blue pearl lies in the mud, just visible in the dim light of a solitary street lamp burning weakly at the end of the alley.
Across from the lamp, a warehouse stands behind a walled yard. A small winged snake has been carved into wall’s lone gate.
After debating their options for a few moments, they decide Qi’da will scale the wall and open the gate for Rheis. She succeeds in her effort but discovers the gate was already unlocked. Sheepishly, she waves Rheis into the compound.
The only window on the warehouse’s main floor has been painted black and, this time, Qi’da quietly confirms that its front door is actually locked.
They don’t hear anything inside, so Qi’da quickly picks the lock and cracks the door open to peek inside.
A half-dozen dead bodies line the wall opposite the door. Piled in front of them is an assortment of cudgels, long daggers, and short swords. Near the centre of the room, two Kenku are sitting on some crates, playing cards.
Rheis is looking for a way to bluff his way past the Kenku but, before he can formulate a plan, the birdmen see the duo, retrieve steel banded cudgels from their belts, and begin advancing.
Qi’da draws her bow and puts an arrow in the shoulder of the nearest Kenku. Rheis calls on Tymora’s power and a fiery radiance engulfs the same unlucky ravenite.
Both thugs rush forward — closing the gap between the combatants — but their whirling clubs fail to connect.
Rheis, drawing his own cudgel, knocks the wounded Kenku unconscious before turning to urge his companion to surrender.
This Kenku however, looks unwilling, so Qi’da encourages him with the flat of her short sword.
Belatedly, the birdman pleads “Don’t spill the tea!” and drops his weapon to the ground.
Rheis wastes no time tying the two ravenites up and once they are secured, attempts an interrogation.
Most of the captive Kenku’s responses are frustratingly vague, but eventually he deduces that the birdmen are the rearguard of a Xanatharian raid.
Qi’da, meanwhile, has been investigating the bodies and discovered that they all sport Black Network tattoos. The jerkin of one particular corpse has been torn open and, in addition to a winged snake tattoo, Qi’da notices a stylized “M” branded over the heart.
Moving on from the bodies, Qi’da begins a thorough search of the ground floor.
This section of the warehouse is almost empty, with the exception a few stacks of crates and some broken furniture. However, as she moves toward the stairs, Qi’da hears a muffled sneeze.
Cautiously, she cracks opens the under-stair closet door. At the rear of the closet, a red haired man is peaking out at her from behind a dust covered canvas — he sneezes again.
“Mercy!” pleads the man.
Qi’da makes a pacifying gesture and waves the man forward.
“Floon Blaagmar?” she asks.
“No… no, my name is Renaer …Neverember,” answers the man warily, as he makes his way out of the closet. “Who are you?”
Deciding to trust Renear, Qi’da explains that she and Rheis are looking for Floon on Volo’s behalf.
Sensing that he is out of immediate danger, Renaer’s story begins to tumble out of him.
He and Floon were ambushed after leaving the Skeward Dragon. They were bundled off to this warehouse, where Renaer was subjected to a thorough interrogation in one of the rooms upstairs.
“They kept asking about the gold my father had embezzled while he was Open Lord of Waterdeep. I told them I don’t know anything about that — I haven’t spoken to my father for more than a year — not since my mother’s funeral. I showed them the mourning locket he gave me — it has her portrait in miniature — and they snatched it from me and dragged me back down here. After that, they took Floon upstairs and then all hell broke loose!”
Renaer goes on to explain that the a second group of thugs had staged a raid on the warehouse. Renaer’s captors were quickly overwhelmed and in the tumult he had hidden in the cupboard under the stairs.
Hearing this, Qi’da resumes her search for Floon while Rheis listens too the rest of Renaer’s story.
On the second floor, she finds a suite of offices. A simple steel bell hangs over one of the office doors — it appears to be operated via a pull cord that disappears into the wall. Warily, Qi’da cuts the bell down and stuffs it into her pack before moving into the room.
A thorough search yields: sundry office supplies, a sheet of parchment Qi’da recognizes as a magical paper messenger bird, rat droppings, and — broken open and discarded on the floor — the locket Renaer had mentioned.
Having failed to find Floon, Qi’da retreats downstairs and shows the others the locket.
Renaer gratefully receives his keepsake and starts to thank Qi’da, but interrupts himself “I didn’t know it had a second compartment behind the portrait!”
And then, angrily, “What the hell did my father put in there?”
Intrigued, Rheis goes upstairs to see if he can find whatever was in the locket. His search doesn’t turn up anything, but he does spot the severed rope hanging out of the wall.
“What’s with this rope?” he calls down. and Qi’da explains it was attached to a bell.
Frowning, Rheis pulls on the cord and, when nothing happens, he begins prying panelling off the wall — tracing the rope’s path down to the first floor and a concealed door.
Behind the door, he discovers a crate containing fifteen silver trade bars and, stacked against the wall, four smallish paintings. Each painting depicts a different city: Luskan, Neverwinter, Balder’s Gate, and his hometown of Silverymoon.
Rheis secrets the bars away in his pack— he’ll split them with Qi’da later — and carries the paintings over to the others.
Having failed to find both Floon and the locket’s contents, the three turn their attention back to the pair of Kenku. By this time the second birdman is conscious and, when asked about Floon, he croaks: “Follow the chalk underground, dummy!”
Suspecting the Xanatharians have taken Floon into the sewers, Rheis and Qi’da are eager to continue their search. However, they are uncomfortable leaving the still shaken Renaer.
There is also the matter of the four paintings. Wanting to keep their hands free, they ask Renaer to act as porter. Then, hoping Captain Staget and his patrol are still in the area, they hustle the two prisoners, a bemused Renaer, and the stolen artwork out of the warehouse.
They find the Captain, still at his crime scene, and hurriedly explain the bones of the situation to him.
Staget’s demeanour, in the presence of the son of a former Open Lord, is markedly changed. He listens carefully and agrees to provide Renaer with an escort home, to take custody of the Kenku, and to send some guards to the warehouse. However, he admonishes both Rheis and Qi’da to “Keep the blood off the streets.”
With their charge now in safe hands, the pair hurry back to the warehouse.
Session III: Monday, 1st of Ches, Dusk
Fighting the Gazer
Outside the warehouse again, Rheis and Qi’da begin to scour the blind alley for a sewer entrance, working their way back towards Old Xoblob’s Shop. And, at about the half-way point, they spot a grimy sewer grate.
Putting her head down against the filthy iron, Qi’da spots a circle with ten radiating spokes chalked on the tunnel wall.
Once they pry the grate open, it is a simple — if odorous — matter to follow the path marked by the chalk signs. Fifteen or twenty minutes later, they reach a junction of three tunnels meet. At the centre of the intersection, a ladder ascends to the street above. And, circling the ladder they spot what looks, vaguely, like a flying rutabaga. As it rounds the ladder, Rheis recognizes it as a gazer.
Puffing itself up, the tiny beholder-kin chitters, “Go-way!”
Qi’da immediately reaches for her short bow, but Rheis reaches out a hand in an attempt to sooth the floating eyeball.
In response, one of the gazer’s lesser eyestalks tenses and, as its magic washes over her, Qi’da feels a moment of irrational panic — but, gritting her teeth she looses an arrow, which grazes the little beastie.
Rheis, reluctant to butcher the tiny eye tyrant, knocks it unconscious with his club. Bending down he retrieves its limp form from the muck.
“You’re not keeping that thing, are you? asks an incredulous Qi’da.
“It’s just a little guard dog,” replies Rheis without guile.
Shaking her head in resignation, Qi’da gestures the way forward, “We have to be close now, if they’ve left a lookout.”
Rheis nods and the friends move quietly into the next tunnel.
Exploring the Sewer Outpost
Three or four minutes later, the tunnel opens on a circular vault, supported by a central pillar. To the left of the pillar, a stone door is clearly visible on the tunnel wall. On the right, incongruously, is what can only be an arrow slit.
The sound of snoring can be heard above the ever present trickle of sewer water.
Peeking in the slit, Qi’da spies a sleeping goblin, slumped against the wall.
She waves Rheis forward and carefully tests the stone door — by good luck it is unlocked and they step into a torchlit hallway.
To their left is a cluttered coat room; there are shabby coats hung on the wall or piled on the floor along with a few rusty swords. The only furniture is a solid wood chest, which when opened reveals a moldering cloak.
“Just about the right size for our little friend,” Qi’da whispers, gesturing to the, still unconscious, gazer.
And when Rheis’ eyes narrow in protest Qi’da points out, “If it wakes up, it’ll raise an alarm.”
“Fine,” Rheis replies; disappointed.
He carefully places the small creature into the chest and softly closes the lid.
“We can come back for it later,” Qi’da whispers mollifyingly.
Leaving the coat room, the pair sneak past the snoring goblin and move down a long twisting hallway. Eventually they come to a small dormitory — six beds covered with threadbare blankets line the walls. And, from behind a closed door comes the muffled sounds of raised voices.
Cracking the door open, Qi’da sees a familiar tattoo covered head — the thug who accosted Yagra — and a grey dwarf. Both men have their backs to Qi’da and the dwarf is giving ‘Eye-tattoos’ panicky advice: “It’s just gonna come under the door! You have to block the bottom with something!”
‘Eye-tattoos,’ meanwhile, is busy bracing a chair against one of the room’s three doors.
Padding up behind the duergar, Rheis and Qi’da hit him with synchronized blows to the head. Stunned, he falls to the ground, unconscious.
The ensuing silence causes ‘Eye-tattoos’ to turn around and his eye’s widen in recognition. Rheis gestures a threat with his cudgel and, outnumbered and unarmed, ‘Eye-tattoos,’ motions defeat.
They immediately grill the thug for Floon’s whereabouts — he reluctantly tells them that “the redhead” is in the next room “with the boss.”
Meanwhile, a grey shape oozes from underneath the blockaded door and an acrid scent wafts into the room.
Noticing the smell, both Rheis and Qi’da look over — just in time to see the viscid shape casually envelope the unconscious duergar.
Qi’da rolls her short bow off her shoulder, snatches an arrow from her quiver, and launches it toward the syrupy mass. The barb strikes true, but the creature’s surface seems to liquify around the thin wooden shaft — dissolving it with a quiet hiss.
Rheis follows Qi’da’s attack with a bolt of mystical flame. Unfortunately, when the flames flicker out, the ooze seems little changed.
With a cry of frustration, Qi’da casts her bow to the floor, draws her short sword, and plunges it deep into the amorphous form, twisting it this way and that, searching for some vital organ. Her efforts are rewarded when the ooze suddenly liquifies — collapsing into a thin, lifeless, puddle of ichor — revealing the grey dwarf, alive, if a tad digested.
Lifting her sword Qi’da sees the blade has also been damaged by the ooze.
Belatedly, ‘Eye-tattoos’ realizes he has an opportunity to escape and bolts for the room’s third door. However, Rheis manages to give the back of his head a good thump with his cudgel — knocking him unconsciousness.
The two friends waste no time tying the two comatose men up before dragging them into the previous room to to hide them. They wrestle the thugs into a pair of beds and cover them with blankets — giving the illusion they are just sleeping.
Then, after a quick conference, they agree to bluff their way into the interrogation room. Rheis mouths a terse prayer to Tymora and his form flickers slightly before being replaced with ‘Eye-tattoos’ likeness.
Just as the illusion is solidifying, Rheis’ “little guard dog” gazer streaks into the room. Spotting ‘Eye-tattoos,’ the tiny creature gasps, “Truders! Truders!”
“We know,” Rheis answers gruffly, pointing back toward the outpost’s entrance, “they went back that way!”
Absorbing this new information, the gazer blinks twice, then dashes back out of the room, screeching, “Find-em! Find-em! Find-em!”
As the gazer’s cries fade away, Qi’da makes an elaborate bow, indicating Rheis should take the lead. The pair move back through the ‘ooze room’ and into a dim hallway, stopping at the foot of a short set of stairs.
From the room at top of the stairs, they can hear a single voice raised in anger, “Tell me the truth!” Followed by a dull thud and a short, quavering, cry.
The pair move quickly up the stairs and, as they crest the top, they see a brawny half-orc standing over a red-haired figure lying limp on the floor. Flames flicker around the half-orc’s raised fist.
Behind these two men, on a raised stone platform, sits a figure whose very existence is used to frighten wayward children — “be good or the mind flayers will get you.” Cradled in its arms, like some grotesque cat, is what looks like a brain with legs.
Rheis clears his throat and stammers, apologetically, “Excuse me, sir. We have reason to believe… you’ve got the wrong guy.”
Looking up, ‘Flame-fist’ roars angrily, “What?!”
“We got the wrong guy,” Rheis amends meekly, “the Black-nets had the wrong guy.”
A tired sigh ripples through Rheis and Qi’da’s thoughts. “I don’t have time for this” — the words are almost subliminal, but there is no doubt they emanate from the tentacle faced aberration. Smoothly, the illithid rises to its feet, glides down the dais’ short set of stairs and exits through a set of double doors cut into the side wall. Qi’da notices it pull a small stone orb from its pocket just before it leaves the room.
“Wait,” cries ‘Flame-fist,’ desperation creeping into his voice. But the mind flayer does not reappear.
His shoulders slump and after a moment the flames in his hand gutter out. But, glancing down at Floon, he puffs up with renewed rage.
Rheis, sensing their opportunity slipping through their grasp, calls out, “Don’t worry boss, we’ll take care of him. You won’t have to see him again!”
“Fine,” grunts ‘Flame-fist’ turning and stalking out of the room. “Just get rid of him. Gut him and dump the body in the sewer!”
Rheis and Qi’da, hardly believing their luck, scramble to collect Floon, half dragging the semi-conscious man back they way they came.
Incredibly, the goblin guard is still sleeping at his post.
Hurriedly, they retrace their steps through the sewer, until they hear a familiar chittering voice, “Where-go?”
They have reached the triple intersection with its central ladder.
“The boss wants him gone,” answers Rheis, pushing past the gazer and into the next tunnel. His shoulders tense, anticipating a blow from behind, but the gazer continues circling the ladder. The sounds of its grumbling fade as they make their way back toward the alley.
By this time, Floon has fully regained consciousness and, haltingly, he tells his rescuers his story.
Thinking he was Renaer, the Xanatharians had taken him from the warehouse. Hustling him through the sewers to their secret outpost. “They kept asking me about something called the ‘Stone of Golorr’ and the ‘eyes,’ whatever they are. I think they were finally starting to believe me — that I wasn’t Renaer — when you showed up. Who knows what they would have done next! Thank you!”
Qi’da does her best to reassure Floon and explains that Volo sent her and Rheis to find him, “At the behest of your wife.”
Floon however, doesn’t look particularly reassured at mention of his wife and only says, “That Volo is a good man.”
The alley, when the trio finally push the sewer grate out of the way, is lit with flickering torches held by members of Captain Staget’s squad. The Captain himself stalks over with Renaer at his side.
Staget is grudgingly grateful to Rheis and Qi’da and sends a runner for reinforcements so they can secure the sewer outpost. At Renaer’s prodding, he also agrees to provide Floon an escort home.
Renaer, for his part, thanks the pair with real warmth and, before they leave the alley, he returns the paintings — “These, I think, may belong to you…”
Almost Getting Paid
On returning to the Yawning Portal, the two friends find Volo sitting where they left him, surrounded by a substantial number of empty mugs.
His eyes light up when he spots them, “Ha! You’ve found him already? Yes, I knew you were the pair for the job! Yes in-deed!”
Volo waves for Rheis and Qi’da to give an account of the rescue.
As their tale proceeds, Volo interjects regularly; wondering animatedly at the duo’s cleverness, martial prowess, and luck. However, as their story comes to a close, Volos begins twiddling with his mug.
Into this awkward silence, Rheis clears his throat and pointedly raises an eyebrow at their patron.
“Right,” Volo responds sheepishly, “I know I’ve promised you gold, but the truth is — and I’m embarrassed to say it — the truth is, I find myself a tad short at the moment.”
“I can pay though,” he adds hastily, as Rheis’ hands begin to curl into fists, “with this…”
And, from inside his doublet, he produces a deed of ownership.
“It’s a tavern.” Volo continues with renewed enthusiasm, “Or it was, but anyway it’s worth far more than 200 dragons. That I can assure you!”
“I’ll bet it’s haunted,” Qi’da mutters under her breath.
Hearing her, Volo coughs violently, spraying beer across the table.
“Well… I couldn’t say,” he demurs. “I won it, playing cards. The fellow did seem almost pleased to be rid of it… But a nuisance of that sort,” he says, gesturing vaguely at the air, “shouldn’t be any trouble for persons with your particular skill sets!”
Resignedly, Qi’da responds, “We’ll need to inspect the place first.”
Of course, of course. That’s only reasonable! Expected even,” Volo returns, obviously relieved.
So, the pair return to Rheis’ apartment (and cat), in the Sea Ward, with plans to inspect the property the next day.