Side Quests

After the party settles in to their new home, they decide to do some investigating and trying to make local contacts. In the morning, there's a scratching at the door and a white cat is outside. It runs up to Orie and speaks a message to meet with the Emerald Enclave about membership. Fenriz goes to some bars frequented by the criminal side of society, trying to make contact with a thieves' guild. With Renaer's help, he finds a contact, they give him a job; find out who is murdering elves and elves down by the docks, it's bad for business. Valder sells the swords and bows grabbed from the warehouse and the spellbook the half-orc had. He also asks at a weapon's dealer about the dagger taken from one of his father's murderers. The first crafter says it looks like it mas made to hold poison, Valder goes to another dealer and gets a similar opinion, but is no closer to finding out who made it and who bought it. Orie goes down to meet with the Emerald Enclave, they are interested in her and give her a mission to hunt down an animated scarecrow causing problems for farmers outside of town. Barakiel asks the book dealer questions about history books and goes to the Castle Ward to do some investigating. Renaer takes him to meet a former adventurer named Mirt, but he is not at home.
That night they decide to go hunting the serial killer. Stalking the night, they spot a drunken half-elf sailor leave a bar. Fenriz tails him with the rest of the part a short distance back. The sailor is jumped by a dark figure and dragged into an alley. Fenriz leads the charge with Harker close behind. The murderer has already killed the sailor, but the party lays into him. He is well armored and agile, it's a drow! Orie hits him with her crossbow, Fenriz, Harker and Barakiel surround him but only get in a few blows. The drow pulls a small device and points it at Fenriz; an explosion hurls something at him. The drow cast a magical darkness spell and disappears into thin air. Disheartened by their almost success, the party returns home. They will try again the next night. During the day, they receive an invitation from Mirt to attend the opera tomorrow night, which leads to a quick trip out to secure some fine clothes. They also receive a magical message from the Blackstaff Vajra Safahr, asking Renaer to present his new comrades whenever it was convenient. Since the Blackstaff might be able to aid them in their hunt, they decide to go see her immediately.
Meanwhile, Tetsuo has come to town and met Volo, who directs him to meet the adventurers at their inn. The party questions Tetsuo and accepts him. The party goes to the Blackstaff's tower and meets with Vajra, she offers them positions in the Gray Hands. They thank her but do not accept immediately. Fenriz explains about the serial killer drow and his mysterious weapon. The Blackstaff suggests they visit the House of Inspired Hands, a temple to Gond, god of smiths and crafters. At Gond's temple, they speak with a gold dragonborn named Valetta. She explains the general concept of "firearms" and suggests a drow in the city may be a member of the Bregan D'aerthe, a drow mercenary band. The party picks up their fine clothes and attends the opera. During the intermission, they meet with Mirt, he offers them membership in the Harpers. The party will consider it. Fenriz talks about the issues with the Zhentarim and Xanathar's Guild and that they have a mind-flayer. Mirt says no one knows who Xanathar is, maybe the leaders of the Xanathar Guild are mind-flayers. The party also discusses the drow murderer and firearms, but he has no information. They return home after the opera and gear up and head back to the Dock Ward to hunt the drow, but have no luck.
In the morning, the tavern's ghost has written "get out" on a window. Orie inscribes "friends?" as a way to try to communicate. They revisit the Blackstaff and accept the offer and get their first mission: there is a monk seer who lives on Mount Waterdeep, see if he has any prophecies about threats to the city. They also visit Mirt and accept his offer to join the Harpers. His mission for them is to find Maxine, an intelligent talking horse who works pulling transport wagons. Ask her if she has heard about any Zhentarim agents in the city.
The party gets some horses and heads out to Underhill to see about the scarecrows attacking the farmers. Barakiel remains behind to do some work of his own. They visit a pub and get directions to one of the attacked farms and speak to the farm owner. He tells them about the attacks and adds his son is out looking for the scare crows. They follow the son's tracks and find him dead. They follow the scarecrow tracks and are attacked by three scarecrows which are some kind of magically animated construct. The constructs are strong and resistant to weapons, Fenriz and Harker coat their swords in flaming oil. Orie uses her crossbow, Tetsuo his sword and Valder hurls multiple spells at them. Several of the party are wounded in the battle, but the creatures are defeated. They return the farmer's son's body to his family and return to Waterdeep.
The party climbs Mount Waterdeep and speaks to the monk who tells them "Evil's twin hides its face for now, expect that to change before winter's end". They return to Blackstaff tower and deliver the monk's message, then search the city for Maxine, the talking horse. They find her and she says she dropped off a sun elf and his female half-orc bodyguard at the Yawning Portal. The half-orc sounds familiar, might be the one that got in a brawl the night the party met Volo.
Their patrons give them new missions, the Blackstaff sends them to talk to a young bronze dragon hanging out in the harbor, the Enclave wants them to help investigate a necromancer stealing from the graveyard and the Harpers say a local bookseller trapped a monster in her shop.
The party returns to their inn for the night, but in the morning they are awakened by an explosion.

Silly Quotes and Smart Remarks
Discussing sleeping arrangements, standing watches, sleeping armored versus unarmored. Jim isn't worried about sleeping in armor since his character has lots of offensive and defensive cantrips.
Jim "I'm the most dangerous when we're buck naked"
Mike "Do you hip thrust when you cast Eldritch Blast?"

All the 5E books have silly disclaimers inside, Jim found the disclaimer in Volo's Guide to Monsters
"Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast does not vouch for, guarantee, or provide any promises regarding the validity of the information provided in this volume by Volothamp Geddarm. Do not trust Volo. Do not go on quests offered by Volo. Do not listen to Volo. Avoid being seen with him for risk of guilt by association. If Volo appears in your campaign, your DM is undoubtedly trying to kill your character in a manner that can be blamed on your own actions. The DM is probably trying to do that anyway, but with Volo's appearance, you know for sure"
Lee's response?
Lee "Truer words have never been committed to the page…"

Ordering from a Puerto Rican restaurant, Lee chooses Bistec Encebollado, but Mike can't pronounce it
Mike "I'll have the Bistec Ence… Encephalitis"
MC "I don't always get encephalitis, but when I get it, I get it twice. Dos Encephalitis"

Chmiel "Hobbit porn is big"
Kevin"Halfling, not hobbit; do you want to get sued?"
Lee "Halfling hairy foot fetish"

Chmiel's character meets Volothamp Geddarm
Chmiel "What Scandinavian metal band did he get kicked out of?"

MC was drinking 1911 brand hard cider and called it "911"
Mike "It tastes like jet fuel and sadness"
Chmiel "You have to drink two at a time"
<mass groans>
Chmiel "Too soon?"

Discussing porn, and a British version of Bang Bus in a taxi
Mike "It's a double decker bus
Lee "Bang Bus 25, Double Deck Her"

The party has been invited to a local opera, but needs to go outside of town on a monster hunt
Kevin "We'll go after we recover from our hangovers, because we'll need to drink to get through the opera"