In the Third Sheet Tavern & Inn, three adventurers are gathered by Cyrus “Gildedeye” Ashford – a known broker within the Broken Trust criminal organization. The party, consisting of sailor Rask Falemor, inquisitor Kit N’Drak, and woodsman Finn Larsson, is hired to commit a heist at an upcoming party taking place about a day’s travel north of Sunderhold.
The party is to be thrown by Valoff Barrister – wardbaron of Highgarden and the wealthiest noble house in Sunderhold. The art piece contracted to be procured is a silver statue of a cliffdiver – a common, coastal hawk native to the Waning Isle – Valoff has recently acquired the statue and seems eager to show it off – as well as his recently finished manor abutting his vineyards north of Sunderhold.
During the course of the discussion with Cyrus, Rask quickly pieces together there is more at stake than a simple smash-and-grab. The silver cliffdiver is well-known as the sigil for House Loyalar, whose reputation has become a matter of public discussion as of late. The current head of the house is Martas Loyalar – forced into the task of rebuilding the house’s finances and status after his father Gallus passed away two years ago, leaving a mountain of debts and gambling losses as Martas’ sole inheritance.
Rask is suspicious of the contract, now fearing the party is being interjected into the middle of a feud between noble houses. After the briefing, Rask hits the docks to try to glean useful information, while Kit attempts to shake down a local for useful information or gossip about Valoff. Ultimately, Valoff’s reputation for paranoia and cunning proves solid – the waitstaff is personally vetted by the wardbaron himself, and his business is shrewd and merciless, yet on the up-and-up.
Taking advantage of Cyrus’ connections, the party accepts an appointment at the Silken Shawl in Highgarden, where pristine and fashionable outfits are measured and provided to blend in at the party. At Cyrus’ suggestion, some hidden pockets and folds are included in the outfits to be of potential service during the party. A trip to a craftsman across the square delivers some additional information – Valoff commissioned a large number of replicas of the cliffdiver statue, possibly to be sold off as souvenirs.
Plans and possibilities are discussed well into the evening. Kit tries to curry some favor with a drunk, young nobleman in Highgarden – but unfortunately draws the attention of a mostly incompetent, spoiled son of a shipping-and-receiving merchant. Some requests made of Cyrus are received, however – a set of thieve’s tools is delivered to Rask’s room, while Kit is provided with a floor layout of Valoff’s new manor.
Cyrus has a wagon and horses ready at the north gates, and the party departs to travel north to the manor. On the way, they spot an overturned wagon and a great deal of commotion down the road. Rushing to the wagon’s aid, they interrupt a flock of highwayman Kenku – three rushing off into the woods with an ornate chest, while three more stay behind to fight for their spoils. Kit delivers a crushing blow with her maul, while Rask downs another with throwing darts – severing the throat of a bandit lit aflame by the Faerie Fire of Finn’s druidic magic.
Surviving the encounter, the party earns the begrudging good graces of the Barrowdown family – a father and daughter company of relatively well-known undertakers from Preacher’s Row, also on their way to the Barrister party. The blustering father is grateful for the rescue, while the fiery daughter is fixated on the loss of the ornate chest to the bandits. The party and the Barrowdown family part ways, arriving at dusk to the Barrister estate grounds, their caravans finding a space to make camp on the outskirts of the cabin.
The party retires to the campfire after getting familiar with the outskirts of the manor. Their reverie is broken when a distraught Edrick Barrowdown begs the party for assistance. Gathering inside the caravan, Barrowdown reveals that his daughter Alainne crept off into the woods shortly after they made camp – he assumes she has run off to retrieve the contents of the chest. With no other hope of rescuing his daughter, Edrick reveals to the party his plight. Due to some poor accounting and worse business deals, Edrick finds the family’s fortunes dwindling. Hoping to curry favor with Valoff Barrister, he spend the last of the business’ coffers to acquire three cyphers as a gift – Barrister’s interest in the relics a well-known quality.
Edrick implores the party to find and rescue his daughter, offering the cyphers (if retrieved) as payment for the task. He states the objects took the form of a golden coin, a shrunken eye, and a silver bell. The party slips off into the night, retracing their steps to the site of the attack earlier that day. Following a trail into the woods, a lone kenku watchman is swiftly and silently dispatched – the party advances towards the edge of a clearing in the forest. In the middle of the clearing is a campfire, – dancing shadows and chattering beaks not far into the distance…