Vivi searched the downed assailant, taking some crossbow bolts and almost all their coin (leaving some to make it look less like they were robbed).
"Our path forward is branching off", Istal tells Zephyr. He implied that Zephyr is stuck in some old ways. He says the guild will never return to this city. Istal was sickened by Zephyr associating with one of the "pale skins".
Zephyr got Istal to admit he was tasked to do a job and asked him who he works for. He stalled some more and Zephyr finally got him to whisper something to her. Vivi and I only overheard a few words.
Quickly looking Istal over, I found he has 22g, 7s, some kind of handheld miniature cannon and a note:
Istal, Prove yourself. Five palekind, then the monk on the mount. Enclosed is for last resorts. Use will draw attention, I'm sure you know. - Z
I asked Vivi to raise the guard and bring them back. Once she was there, I convinced her to take Istal away. As they're leaving, Istal asks the guard "What do you know of the Shadow's Thieves"?
Once the guard had taken Istal away, I showed the paper to Vivi and Zephyr.
On the way back to Trollskull Tavern, we discussed the note.
Mount Waterdeep seems like an obvious connection to "mount" from the note, but there were no monastaries or anything... There's rumored to be someone on the mount who can help people find solace but that dreams and truth intermingle there.
The next day
3 days from Brightswords (18 Eleint)
After watching the staff mount the troll skull above the fireplace, there was a knock at the door. Zephyr opened the door and had a parchment thrust into her face and was asked "are you the ones responsible for this?" - Fala Lafalier was at the door.
Fala was surprised the Tavern was clean and functional. We invited her in, disarming her tantrum and talked about Rishal's paper supplier situation. She was surprised at how helpful we were and told her friends outside to get away and to take the paint with them. We were pretty sure her crew vandalized the tavern but she'll fix it and give us a discount on our first visit to her shop.
Discussing Istal's note, it finally clicked what Mirt was trying to hint at - Bregan D'aerthe! Zephyr suggested that Bregan D'aerthe could be connected to the Shadow Thieves and that she's looking to forge her own way from them. Awfully convenient timing that the Shadow Thieves started to show back up now that the Grand Game is happening.
I used the sending stone (given to me by Davil) to report in that the issue in the Dock Ward should be resolved but that we're continuing to investigate. I was told to see Bonnie (at the Yawning Portal) for payment. I headed down there to collect it and drop off a letter to my family in Neverwinter.