Our party returns from Wave Echo Cave with Nezra in tow, and hands her off to Shanti at the Townmaster's Hall. Shanti pays them 200 GP for their efforts (50 each). Heppa, concerned about Nezra escaping and happy to make some extra money guarding her, stays with her at the prison. Jinmorn is concerned about the lack of public defenders in Phandalin. Shanti is less concerned, but will begin the process of setting up a workable legal system in the town (which til now had only the ineffective Townmaster to resolve disputes). Aedril and Bran visit the family that was held captive by the Redbrands while Jinmorn heads to the local dive bar to drink with Drew. Jinmorn meets Aurelion there, and despite Aurelion's mostly successful attempts to cheat at cards, Jinmorn wins some money from him in a few hands of poker. They are kicked out of the bar after Jinmorn flips a table when he discovers Aurelion cheating, and head to the more respectable inn to keep drinking.
Bran and Aedril are at this inn, and the four sit down together with drinks that Elsa, the barmaid, is happy to provide on the house. Garbhan appears with the party shortly thereafter and informs them about Taog's whereabouts. He offers them 500 GP to get Taog – 300 up front, 200 afterwards. He also furnishes them with disguises as nobles (Aurelion and Jinmorn) and servants (Aedril and Bran) and some potions and scrolls.
Jinmorn gets very drunk and goes to sleep after catching Aurelion cheating once more at cards. Bran and Aedril speak together before sleeping, agreeing that they don't trust Garbhan but have no choice but to do as he says. Aurelion spends the night cheating at cards some more, winning big in an enormous game, and ending up in an enormous fight with the people he was playing with. The ensuing brawl wrecks the tavern, and Aurelion makes an enemy, Telem Ule, who unbeknownst to him is also attending the party Garbhan has arranged for them to attend.
The next morning, Jinmorn gets up to run sprints with the crossfit blacksmith halfing he made friends with earlier, puking his guts out the whole time. The party makes plans over breakfast and begins their trip to Waterdeep, where the Emerson manor is located. Once in town, Aedril goes to the library to reminisce and read up on the Emersons and magic mirrors. Aurelion mingles and attempts to meet guests who will be at the party – he succeeds in meeting Aust, as well as 4 other guests. Jinmorn goes to the manor as soon as he arrives in town and demands to be let in. He is accommodated, but hits a wall when he demands to stay overnight at the manor; the family puts him up at the Golden Lion inn instead.
The next morning, Bran and Aedril report for their work as extra servants for the party and are shown their jobs. Aedril begins trying to case the house and learns a bit about Taog from Karlene and Senta, two of the house servants. As the party starts, Aedril becomes a little more bold and wanders into the living quarters of the Emerson family, where he encounters Gretchen. Gretchen suspects him of stealing and asks him turn out his pockets; completely panicking, Aedril gulps down his potion of invisibility and disappears. He goes through the house, investigating each room, and eventually finds Taog. Taog is a hot mess, but is grateful to see Aedril and excited to hear that rescue may be at hand.
Aedril and Bran meet in the hallway and speak while Aedril remains invisible, but Bran is whisked away too soon by one of the Emersons, who is concerned about his odd behavior. Aedril retreats to the back lawn and finds a nice bush to hide behind before using Message to finish communicating with Bran. Fashionably late, Aurelion shows up to the party and begins speaking with one of the people he met earlier that day, Lord Hedgemere Brovius, a halfling warlord. Aurelion is successfully able to work his way into a conversation among a number of party guests, only to find that Telem was just regaling the others with the story of Aurelion's card game and ensuing brawl back in Phandalin.