Grageon, Khargarazsh, Taru, and Gabril had all received a summons to the Valkyrie from their contact Anatoly. They had all done jobs for Anatoly over the past few months and he has seen that they had gotten rooms at the Valkyrie. The message said to be at the Valkyrie at 10 PM and await the signal to enter the back meeting room.
Taru arrives first in her spider form and immediately goes and finds her usual vantage point high in the rafters of the common room where she can over see all the goings-on. She watches for for quite awhile and sees nothing out of the ordinary. Until a large human fighter bellies up to the bar and orders water. Taru makes a note of this.
Grageon, sipping on his water, waits patiently for the signal. He notices a little while later a large red Dragonborn step into the bar and finds a table.
Khargarazsh readily slams down his drink when a few minutes later a seemly disheveled elf brashly enters the bar reeking of cigars and wine. In fact he seems to being wearing about as much wine as he has drank.
Gabril finds an open seat and makes a scene as he sits down and orders a drink.
Grageon is first to have the covered stein brought to him. He quietly stands and goes toward the restrooms and enters the hidden door in the broom closet. He goes into the meeting room and has a seat. He is waiting patiently as he has every other time he has met with Anatoly, when the door he came in, a door that he has not seen anyone else come in while he was in the room, opens and in walks the red Dragonborn. Grageon stands and eyes Khargarazsh. Khar eyes the human before him and quickly dismisses him and has a seat.
Grageon sits opposite Khar and two sits in uneasy silence keeping an eye on one another. Then the south door of the room opens again and in walks Gabril carrying his stein of milk. He sits at the end of the table and pulls out a cigar and starts to puff on it and it bursts alight. He kicks back in his chair and makes a series of snide remarks trying to get a rise out of the heavies sitting across from one another, but neither will bite.
While Gabril is trying to stir the pot, Taru enters the room in her spider form and makes her way to the rafters above the table. Now I know what you are thinking. Why would the barkeep serve a stein to the rafters. He does not. Taru has been working out to the Valkyrie long enough now that the staff knows to simply deliver a stein to a small table by the hearth and Taru will see.
All four party members are in the room for a few minutes when the north door of the room opens and in come Anatoly, flanked by his bodyguards, two stone looking monstrosities. The bodyguards take either side of the door as Anatoly walks up to the table and says, "Good! You are all here. Let us get down to business then, da? I have employed you all for your various talents in the past. I now have need of all talents combined. My… employer… needs you get something back for him.”
"A statue… it was stolen some time back. It recently came to my employer’s attention that it was in possession of Colin McMannis. Apparently McMannis had the statue stolen from my employer. After much searching and questioning. We have been able to find out that McMannis has statue in private study in his mansion in Newport. My employer wishes for you to, how you say,… liberate the statue and return it to its proper owner."
Taru asks for the time table and Anatoly gives them two days to do the job. He stresses again that nothing should point back at his employer. He also tells them it should look like a robbery so as not to draw attention to the statue. So anything else they can acquire is theirs for the taking.
Many of the group are familiar with McMannis. A successful merchant, McMannis is considered new money and has a large estate on the outskirts of Newport. Gabril remember the name as he had done a few jobs for McMannis before his current employment began.
With that Anatoly and his two hulking bodyguards exit the north door and leave the group to plan. After much bickering, as new groups will do due to a less than forthcoming Gabril, it is decided that they need to go case the neighborhood and the house. They try to decide if there is a good way to exit without being seen. None are eager to draw attention by coming out the bathroom area together.
Then they realize they had never taken Anatoly’s door out of the room. So they decide to do that. Opening the door, they find a a hallway that tees off to the left and up. They follow that since they hope to get to their rooms. There they find that Anatoly has visual access to their rooms and after a little investigating, Gabril discovers that there are secret panels to their closets as well. They make their way to Khar’s room where the idea of going out the window seems pointless to Taru and Grageon and they double back downstairs and say they will meet the other two outside. Khar simply jumps out, followed by Gabril.
Soon the whole group goes and finds themselves scooping out the grounds of McMannis. They find two guards on the gates and two on house perimeter patrol. Taru decides to see what the temperament of the guards are by changing into a cat and approaching the house. The first guard warms to the adorable form of the druid, unaware that she was really a halfling. However, he tries to shoo her off saying that she should not be around when Paul comes around. She skitters away a few steps but then in true cat fashion dashes headlong in the direction that Paul will be coming from.
Paul rounds the corner and curses as he sees the cat on the property and shouts, “Hey now! You GIT OUTTA HERE!” and he throws his spear at the cat, who artfully dodges the spear. The follows his spear and grabs it as it thunks into the ground missing the cat and goes to spin the polearm in a way as to use the butt end of the spear at the car. He misses again but Taru does not stay around to find out what the guard would do next.
Taru returns to her companions and using her silent speak communicates what she learned about the quality of the guards and Khar and Grageon agree that they are veteran but not an overwhelming quality force of guards. They return to the Valkyrie for the night and rest before planning the next phase of the job. Before turning in for the night, Gabril summons a crow familiar.
The next morning, the crew gathers in the quiet common room of the Valkyrie. They have come to realize the innkeeper, Sven, and his wife, Marta, are on the payroll of Anatoly, therefore their conversations would be ignored. They decide that the most likely place for the statue to be would be on the second story. To confirm they agree to send Taru in for some recon. She enters in spider form and makes her way upstairs and discovers the lavish bedroom and study of McMannis.
The next phase of the plan is to sneak Khar in using some skills of Gabril to disguse him as bolts of fine silk as a gift for McMannis.Taru cases the second story and identifies the statue in the study. She then rides the crow familiar back to the rest of the group and conveys her findings. So they set off in the mid-afternoon to McMannis’s with Taru in spider form riding the crow, Grageon and Gabril riding a wagon with Khar crouched up into a ball so he can be hidden by Gabril’s illusion.
They arrive at the gates and Gabril tells the guard that he was sent here with this shipment of fine silks as a gift from Bobao in the Hive. The guard goes to inspect the silks but Gabril successfully convinces him not to ruin the fine silks and that he is in a rush. The guard lets them pass and sends them to the back of the house where they will be met by Yosef.
Grageon drives the wagon around to the back of the house. As Gabril is jumping down off the wagon, Yosef comes out of the kitchen brushing off his apron. Gabril pitches the same story and convinces Yosef to show him the path to take the silks to McMannis’s quarters. Yosef takes him into the kitchens and says, “You can take them right up these stairs. Master McMannis’s quarters are just down the hall to the right.” While Yosef was explaining this, Gabril quickly assessed the situation and seeing only two other cooks and a servant boy, he quickly casts sleep. Yosef and the others fall dead asleep.
Gabril goes out and tells the others to hurry in. Khar and Grageon hustle inside. They proceed up the stairs where they find they are in a servant’s quarters, probably Yosef’s They slowly and carefully make their way down the hall toward McMannis’s suite.
Meanwhile, Taru had slipped back in in spider form and once in the room changed back to her true halfling form and starts to pile up anything that looks valuable. Gabril, Khar, and Grageon stop when they hear a maid down the hall. They see she is fumbling with keys and is about to enter McMannis’s chambers. Taru hears the maid as well and rushes to hide behind the door.
The maid enters and sees the piles of valuables bundled up and starts to call out, when Taru quickly slips the door shut on the maid, knocking her back into the hallway. She is stunned and then turns to see the rest coming down the hall toward her. She starts to scream when Gabril summons a large rock into her mouth to stifle the scream. He quickly secures her telling her to be quiet and no harm would befall her and passes her off to Khar and Grageon to safely tie up and put out of the way.
Gabril goes into McMannis’s suite. Taru quickly points him into the study where the statue is located. Taru resumes gathering extra booty. Gabril goes and inspects the statue. The statue is of a dancing girl. Using detect magic, Gabril sees that the statue and the marble pedestal it is on both have individual magical auras.
Meanwhile, Khar and Grageon take and tie up the maid and throw her back into the room they entered when they first came up the stairs. While in this room, Khar and Grageon hear from downstairs,”Yosef? What happened? You upstairs! You sweep the first floor! Alert! Something is not right!” and an bell starts to ring loudly throughout the house. Upon hearing this Grageon doubles back to the main bed chambers and Khar takes position beside the door. He waits as he hears three people come running up the back staircase. When the first guard emerges from the stairwell, Khar swings his longsword and connects a mighty blow that sends the guard tumbling backward into the stairwell and off-balance, he crashes down the stairs. Khar grins as he hears curses coming from the stairs and what sounds like a second body tumbling down the stairs.
As Grageon enters the bed chambers, he sees Taru scurrying about throwing things into piles and bundling them up. He starts to grab the bundles and when he turns back to see where Taru is, he sees a large Draft horse standing in her stead. The horse says, “Don’t just stand there! Load me up!” Grageon does a quick double take and then shakes off the weirdness of the moment and starts to load the horse up with all the bundles. In the next room, Gabril, hearing the alarm bell, goes, “Screw it!” and grabs the statue off the pedestal and when he does a loud, obnoxious alarm starts sounding. He turns and there is a large horse carrying pillowcases and sheets full of loot standing there. He simply throws the statue on the pile and quickly latches it down magically. The three then make for the head of the main staircase.
Taru, in horse form, is point as they get to the top of the stairs. Just as they arrive three guards armed with spears are also arriving from downstairs. The guards, shocked to see a horse loaded with loot, do not hesitate and thrust their spears into the horse. All three strike and severely hurt the horse.
Meanwhile at the back of the house, Khar spins into the rear stairwell and unleashes his breath weapon down the stairs. The unsuspecting guard takes the gout of flame in the face and the ferocious heat of the cone of fire ignites the stairwell into flame.
Grageon seeing an opportunity dives through the bannister and attempts to tackle the guards so his team can make their escape. However, the busting of the bannister gives the guards the slightest heads up of the intentions of Grageon and they narrowly avoid his tackle and he lands on the stairs in a crash. Taru makes the most of the moment of chaos and simply charges down the stairs. The first guard dodges the horse but the second guard is not so lucky as Taru plows him over. The third guard also narrowly avoids getting trampled.
Gabril seeing an opportunity uses his magic to distract the guard at the head of the stairs by creating the sound of a second horse coming from the back of the opening behind the guard. As the guard turns to see if there is another horse about to crash down on him, Gabril swings a kick to his head and sends the guard tumbling down the stairs.Gabril then rushes down the stairs while the final guard is busy dodging his comrade.
Garageon gets up and swings his axe at the guard looming over him but still being a bit shaken up from the dive, his grip on the axe fails and it goes flying down the stairs missing Gabril and sticking into the floor below. The guard retaliates with a short sword striking Grageon. Taru and Gabril continue to make for the back of the house.
Grageon suddenly grabs the guard and smashes him into the bannister behind him and flings him down the stairs. As the guard lands gurgling at the base of the stairs, Grageon following, swings his large boot and connects a violent kick to the jaw of the guard with a sickening crack and the guard stops breathing.
Khar and the blinded guard start to fight on the stairs, but outmuscled and outclassed, the guard is helpless as Khar grabs him and holds him in the blaze. Taru makes it to the kitchen and bursts through the doors and as soon as she does she sees the prone Yosef lying in her path. Knowing she can’t stop to avoid trampling him, she instead leaps through the large window straight ahead of her. Doing so causes enough damage that she morphs out of horse form and back to her true halfling form. All the loot that had been strapped to her back continues to sail through the air as her suddenly smaller mass drops and rolls across the ground. Gabril runs into the kitchen just as Khar emerges from a flaming stairwell, dropping the limp corpse of the guard. The two jump out of the hole where there once was a window. Moments later, Grageon comes running out of the window just as the fire starts to consume the kitchen.
Gabril tells the group to quickly throw everything into the wagon and get in and sit still. Once this is done, he jumps into the driver’s seat and moments later the image of Yosef pulling a wagon of covered goods rolls up to the gate. He dismounts and throws open the gate and quickly leads the wagon down the street out of Newport. Along the way out of Newport, Gabril recognises McMannis riding up the street toward them, while he still has the opportunity he alters his disguise enough so he is no longer Yosef but simply a older peddler riding through the neighborhood.
The group quietly makes their way back to the Valkyrie and put the wagon back into the stables where Gabril drops his illusion. The group quickly stashes the goods without inspection with the exception of the statue. That they carefully get inside.
The next night they sit in the back meeting room awaiting Anatoly. He arrives with his two hulking stone-like bodyguards who take position by the door. “Good! I see you have statue. Excellent. The fire was even better cover than we expected.”
Gabril says, “We had nothing to do with any fire, but yes we have the statue.” Anatoly smiles and quietly nods. “As you say. I will take statue. Anything else you were able to get is your payment. My employer is happy. We will be in touch soon.” As Anatoly is speaking one of the bodyguards comes forward and takes the 3.5 foot statue into his large engulfing hand and Anatoly and the two bodyguards exit out the back door. The party then goes back to their rooms to enjoy some R&R.