*DM’s Note: We did not go anywhere near Phandelver during this session.
When we last left our party, most of them were settling in at the Stonehill Inn, looking for a much needed long rest, while Ander followed guildmaster Halia Thornton back to her house. Halia had successfully turned the town against Sildar and the Lord’s Alliance following the torching of the townmaster’s hall, despite Ander’s public questioning of her allegiances. After they caught Halia snooping around the Inn, they decided to risk having a quick little one-on-one chat in Halia’s living room.
After dropping off a highly secret note in Tipsy’s room, Ander was not the halfling Halia was expecting to see tonight. She civilly but coldly answers Ander’s inquiries about the town. She insists that the Zhentarim allow their members to operate autonomously enough to succeed, and Halia’s success hinges on Phandalin’s success. As for Ander’s relatives in town, the Alderleafs, they can leave if they dislike the way Halia runs the town. The last thing Ander wants to know is whether the note for Tipsy was professional or personal in nature; Halia breaks a slight smile and replies “purely professional.”
Ander bids Guildmaster and Townmaster-apparent Thornton a good evening and strolls out in to the chilly spring night whistling a bawdy tavern tune only to run smack dab into…Halia Thornton. Who comments, “Well you’re not the halfling I was expecting to see tonight…”
MEANWHILE, back at the inn, Gundren and his magic mustache disguise have checked in for the night with his college pal, Prof. Gnomebody. Tipsy remains passed out in her room, and the others hang out downstairs in the bar, mulling over the heavy events of the day. As late as it is, a few townspeople remain, discussing the town politics, and the revelation that Harbin Wester had been replaced by a shapeshifting monster. While Danquayle sullenly pokes at her steak fries, Hank spots a stranger at the bar: a young female dwarf in fine traveling clothes, nursing an ale. Hank challenges the stranger to an arm wrestling contest, which he wins, and as the dwarf buys them a round Toblin Stonehill remarks “’Ey Miss Rockseekre, these folks’ve been running all around town for the past few days, maybe they’ve seen your uncle?”
They gather around the stranger, one Mistria Rockseekre of the Waterdeep Rockseekres, who had received a letter from her eccentric uncle Gundren (her Guncle) urging her to come to Phandalin for something regarding her family inheritance, but she hasn’t been able to find him anywhere. They put their heads together* and roll a successful insight check, then determine that Mistria is who she says she is, and they take her upstairs to meet her uncle.
*DM Note: Mistria is actually our newest PC and this was her first session. The party didn’t really need to spend long establishing that she was not a monster in disguise, but I appreciate them going through the motions.
While the party is making new friends, Ander is carefully edging around the second Halia Thornton. This Halia states that she is surprised but happy to run into Ander out here, since they have unfinished business. Halia’s face shifts into the face of the drow that Ander had chased out of Cragmaw Castle earlier. The Halia/drow thing continues: during their encounter earlier, she looked into Ander’s mind, knows that they are the one who killed her brother! her face shifts to that of Harbin Wester, then to the grey, featureless face of a doppelganger. The doppelganger intends to capture Ander and submit them to their greatest fears, but suddenly realizes she can’t read the halfling’s mind anymore. Ander smugly waves the ring of mind shielding in front of their face, and the doppelganger draws her scimitars. Just behind them they hear the sound of a heavy-crossbow safety disengaging, and Sildar saying “I’ve heard enough.”
Crossbow bolts fly, and Sildar manages to pin the doppelganger’s cloak to a wall as she flees, but she wrestles free and escapes into the dispersing crowd in the center of town, effectively vanishing among the strange faces. With a shapechanger on the loose, Ander and Sildar agree that they need to stick together, but Sildar is a persona non grata in town. He dons the doppelganger’s black cloak and they sneak to the Stonehill Inn’s stables to gather the rest of the party.
Upstairs, the Rockseekers are having a small family reunion. Gundren had in fact sent a coded letter to Mistria’s family regarding his discovery of the lost mine of Phandelver, but after being abducted and held hostage he had honestly forgot Mistria might be coming. To make matters more complicated, he had also promised some of Mistria’s share of the mine to his rescuers on the condition that they help him regain the mine. Of course he notes that Mistria, a trained fighter, will be a huge asset in taking the mine back from whatever forces the black spider has there.
Their discussion is interrupted by a rock bouncing off the window. Hank throws open the shutters and catches the next rock Ander had thrown, then somersaults to the ground to see what’s up. Hank doesn’t take the news about a doppelganger impersonating townspeople very well.
“How do I know you’re not a doppelganger?”
“How do I know I’M not a doppelganger?”
Eventually, they resolve to go, as a group, to Halia’s house, which they figure is the safest place in town. Halia refuses to open the door again, ESPECIALLY upon learning that a shapechanger is on the loose. Sildar has misgivings about placing Gundren and his map to the mine in the home of the mining guildmaster who ALSO is a Zhentarim, and also does not feel safe in Halia’s home himself. Halia insists that her door has remained locked since she spoke to Ander earlier, and reminds them that she does have a magic seal that makes things explode if they’re opened when they’re not supposed to. They all back away from the door, and decide to abandon the Inn to spend the night at the Alderleaf’s farm. Keeping a close watch on the now empty streets of Phandalin, they proceed to the Alderleaf hay loft and finally take their long rest.
Defeated: doppelganger, or did they???? (they did not)
Acquired: sweet black cloak, glass brooch
NEW PARTY MEMBER: Mistria Rockseeker, Dwarf Noble Fighter
NPCS Met: No one new, but the drow agent was revealed as a doppelganger so that’s a development.
Quests: Deal with the doppelganger, help the Rockseekers retake Phandelver