The Walnut Knob buzzes with activity. Copper elves, Thessan wizards and various townsfolk keep the innkeeper and his gnomish barmaid very busy. Shalazar rents a room and begins deciphering London's journal. The rest of the party settle down in the busy inn.Rilken glances around the inn and notices that one of the copper elves is wearing fresh face paint. Dael informs the party that this indicates he is either about to start, or just finished a ceremonial hunt. Rilken eavesdrops on the elves and overhears something in said in elvish. His kenku skill at mimicry allow him to recite it to Dael and she translates:
Copper elf leader
"There is our prey. We'll get this job done tonight and get their heads back to Mr. Brontnal within the week. His sons will be avenged. Here, take this war-paint and get yourselves ready."
Rilken stands up and hops over to their table. He pulls out the horn of Umbriviridix and places it on the table.
"Greetings! You look like hunters. Take a peek at this dragon horn."
Copper elf leader
"Dragon? Dragons are a myth. This could be anything, a rhinoceros, a mammoth, anything."
Suddenly there is a terrible scream which causes several people to fall to their knees. The Thessan wizards who have been arguing to themselves until now send a screaming, animated mug of ale tumbling across the floor. The mage in grey storms off to his room as the mage in red laughs hysterically.
During the uproar, the copper elves have stumbled out of the inn holding their hands over their ears. Rilken notices that one of them has dropped a silver medallion; a holy symbol of Liadon.
Dael follows them outside and across the street where they enter an abandoned building. She scouts around finding all the windows and doors boarded up, and a painted mural on the side which reads "White Lotus Trading Co." She heads back into the inn to find Illiaph interrogating a deliriously intoxicated wizard. He recognizes Illiaph as the son of his current employer Thorben Felspark and informs him that he was hired to teleport their company to this city for the governors council meeting. Thorben will be offering support for Illden independence and is set to debate some elven Findle diplomat.
He loses consciousness several times during the interrogation and is eventually unrousable.Dael updates them about what she found following the copper elves. "We've made a lot of enemies, but I don't remember killing anyone's sons" says Alistyr. They wrack their brains trying to remember who's sons they could have killed until Rilken looks down at the horn in his hands. Just then, they are approached by a young woman with an enticing purfume.
"Greetings. You seem to be a popular group. You match several descriptions. Luckily for you I don't need your heads. I hear you have something for me. Hand it over quickly and we can be done with our business."
She stretches out her hand expectedly. The party look at each other, having expected Halafas to be their contact.
"Who are you supposed to be? Where's that useless deviant, Halafas? He was supposed to be our contact. If you're with him, you'll know the gesture."
The woman steps back and reaches into her coat but fumbles and drops a short jagged dagger onto the floor.
"No. It's getting worse."
Rilken draws roar and swings at the woman. Her flesh splits showing the reptilian form beneath. Her claws flash at rilkens neck. The battle is short and leaves several of the party members sickened by the doppletrogs grease.
The innkeeper orders the party take the reeking corpse into the street to wait for the guards. They carry out the doppletrogs greasy body just in time to see a familiar mountain elf trudging through the snow.
"Hello there friends! Why the long faces. What on Ord is that smell?"
The party are reasonably happy to see a friendly face. Halafas explains his concern regarding the doppletrogs attack. Apparently multiple parties have been looking for people which matched their description. Halafas suggests that they keep a low profile while in Illden.
He takes the package and heads back to the platinum mine.
Illiaph investigates the doppletrog and finds a bottle of sweet perfume and a gilded piece of parchment. The parchment holds a brief description of the party. Unfortunately it doesn't have any identifying markings other than the gold leaf. He shakes the drunk wizard in the corner into consciousness and tries to get him to identify the parchment. He drunkenly appraises the parchment saying that it would cost upwards of 10 gold crowns to draft such a fine document. Only the Materan brotherhood could afford something like that.
Dael has a sudden realization. Olahorn's strange activity, his sweating and over use of perfume, and his apparent bumbling betrayal at the sight of Laogzod leads her to believe that he has been replaced by a doppletrog.
"That would explain why he was so weird."
"This means that the person who is going to debate to save Findle is dead and replaced by a shape shifting lizard from the center of the earth. How is this not a problem?"
The party gear up and head to the Governors mannor in the middle of the night. Through the windows, Zarbon, Illiaph's demonic familiar, spots a familiar group of guards belonging to his father Thorben Felspark.
Getting in is the easy part. The party bribe the guards and with a combination of invisibility and spiderclimb spells they manage to get inside the second story windows. Luck isn't quite on their side as Rilken trips and accidentally knocks on one of the guests doors. Luckily he is invisible and as the door swings open, the elf inside doesn't seem to notice him. Rilken is shocked to recognize the maimed elf from Shra wielding a glowing red longsword. His eye darts around the darkened hallway before slowly closing the door again.
Dael tracks down Olahorn room and draws her bow. She ducks down at the sound of a door opening. A guard wearing the colours of house Felspark closes the door behind him and walks down the hall. Dael peeks into Olahorns room to find it empty and inspects the door which the guard came from.
Blood is everywhere. Two guards lay dead in their beds. A message is written on the wall in their blood.
- FREEDOM FOR ILLDEN -
Dael follows the doppletrog down the hall where he shifts into Olahorn again and meets with two of Illden's guards. She accidentally trips him on the stairs and the two tumble down causing Olahorn to lose his concentration and shift back into his natural form. The guards are horrified. Illiaph's familiar appears and attempts to scare the doppletrog. He shows no fear and raises his hand to cast a spell. The guards lower their weapons.
"Did you see that? That was a demon! Don't trust anything you see. It's trying to cloud your mind. They must be after me to prevent the negotiations! We need more guards."
They take him into a back room, calling for more guards. They begin to sweep the house with weapons drawn. Zalbar is ordered to stay invisible and spy on Olahorn's room while Dael makes a break for it through the window of the dead guards room. Her decanter of endless water washes the message from the wall as she escapes.
They all run back to the Walnut Knob, unsure of what to do next.