The party rests in the forest so Ash can recover from the owlbear’s attack, and Cileth uses the time to decipher the coded messages. The one just picked up by the carriage occupants says “we have the murderer” and directs them to stay at the Lucky Gnome, while the other – discovered in the tin at the River Rats safehouse – says that he has been moved to the “Elbarress Vault” and that word will be sent to them at the Gnome. Ehljayy recognises the name as one he’s seen many times around Fallcrest – Elbarress was a noble house, one of the founding families who established the town, and like many of them probably has an ancestral vault or tomb set into the cliff face in the centre of town. But he doesn’t know which one – and there are many.
The party make their way back to Fallcrest and decide to scope out the Lucky Gnome. Cileth investigates the carriage, hidden near the docks, and works out that it belongs to a large half-orc who wasn’t travelling alone. There are several hidden compartments, but only one has anything in it – a long, narrow metal box with a built-in lock, which when she picks it open is empty. She’s almost spotted when she exits the carriage, but Ash steps in to distract the River Rats guarding it before stepping back into an alleyway.
One of the visiting members of the Blood Patch exits the Gnome, and Relentless and Ehljayy step in, Relentless using her mind reading powers on him. Their questions reveal that he clearly isn’t deeply involved with the dragon plot, though he does know something about the dragon egg theft, and is angry they have come to find Capriole. He retrieves the now empty box from the carriage and goes back inside the Gnome.
A couple of the River Rats from the safehouse arrive – one carrying the box from which the adventurers removed the second coded note. Ash and Ehljayy realise this is not a good scenario and intercept the pair, Ash intimidating the one holding the box into handing it over. He takes it back to the group and Cileth, thinking fast, tears off the part of the second note saying where Capriole is and puts it back in the box, which Ash takes back to the courier. They let him deliver it and head to Moonsong Temple to see if they have records of where the Elbarress Vault might be.
Ressilmae does indeed have such records and makes a rubbing of the ELbarress crest, indicating on an old diagram which vault should belong to the family. The four climb up the bluff and make their way to the right door, which is locked; Cileth picks it open and within they find a Tigron, chained to the wall as a security measure. Ash, with some suggestions from Relentless, manage to approach the creature without alarming it, and Cileth uses her invisible mage hand to unlock the collar around its neck. Freed and not sensing hostility from the adventurers, the Tigron goes outside and basks in the sun, leaving the heroes to proceed deeper into the Vault.
Beyond the interior door, Ash snags a tripwire and gets a crossbow bolt to the shoulder, prompting a bit more caution from the others; they soon find Dirk and a couple of other River Rats, however, and fight fiercely. Ehljayy, eschewing his usual tactic of hanging back to catch arrows, takes a few brutal blows, but is saved as Capriole blasts through the doors behind the River Rats, distracting them at a crucial moment. The effort is too much for the exhausted young warlock, however, and he collapses in a heap.
No sooner has he been brought round again, than the doors of the vault all slam shut, an unnatural breeze snuffs out the torches, and mighty footsteps reverberate from the walls. A gaunt, ragged figure rounds the corner from the other end of the vault and points a finger at the heroes. “You have dared to spill blood in the vault of House Elbarress!” Seems the crypt here wasn’t empty after all…