Kara arrives at the Great Shrine to see Priest Lorith without any incident. While they have tea she asks him about the “Ritual of Calling”. He’s very helpful, grabbing four books from his shelves that all contain a “Ritual of Calling” (one for an extraplanar entity, one for spirits and two for the presence of the divine) and these are just examples. He explains that magical rituals are ways in which the uninitiated can use magic, but they require specific components and can take hours to perform. There may very well be hundreds of “Rituals of Calling”, but if Kara can tell him what some of the components are, he might be able to help her figure out what the cultists are “Calling”. Kara agrees to find out (if the information is in the journal). She also mentions the strange grey creature they encountered at the Inn. From the description of the dead creature, Priest Lorith is able to identify it as a doppelgänger. He warns her that these creatures are masters of disguise and are capable of reading people’s minds. She thanks him for his help and leaves as the Shrines bells toll the hour.
Kara walks back to the estate the way she came, paying only a little attention to the people around her and the carts selling produce. The seller at one cart distracts her though as he holds out a shiny object that turns out on closer inspection to be a polished copper brooch. As she leans forward to see this however she feels a tugging at her sleeve, which turns out to have been caused by an arrow passing through her sleeve before bouncing along the street’s cobblestones. Suddenly on the alert Kara tenses to flee only to feel a second arrow scrape along the skin on her shoulder, missing the flesh but breaking the skin none the less. Before she can then escape she feels her body go slack and the cobblestones rush up to meet her. Around her people start moving around in a panic, some even move over to see if she’s all right. She tries to tell them that she can’t move, but it just comes out as mumbled words. Then the third and fourth arrows strike home in her back and she screams (well, mumbles in pain). Luckily her paralysis wore off then so she was able to scramble to her feet and seek cover behind a now abandoned vegetable cart. The street was rapidly clearing, so she was easily able to locate her attacker: an archer crouched on the rooftops, an arrow drawn as he tracked her movement across the street. Keeping her head low Kara then made her way down the street, a further two arrows hitting her cover only inches from her face, before breaking from cover and running for safety. The archer followed as best he could but almost tumbled to the ground when he leapt over an alleyway and so Kara made it to safety.
Kara, Grax and Hoatzin all arrived back at the estate within moments of each other and were met by Nortrix (who had been sunning himself). Grax hurriedly tried to tell the others (including Kysmer) that they might be in danger from assassins to which Kara was able to describe how she had been attacked in the street. This worried them all, for they knew that the two (they hoped only two) remaining assassins could lie in wait for them at any time. While they rested them also brainstormed and so came up with the idea of sending out false information. If the hired killers thought that no one would be paying them (which might even be true) then they might abandon their task.
It was at this point that a very weary Rag’azzahd came and found them in their sitting room. He was weary from deciphering infernal scratching all day and was going to take a break, but he thought he should share with them all the latest piece of important information he had found. The journal referred to receiving visitors from “The Teacher”, visitors who could assume the forms of other people. There were three of these visitors that stayed behind in Lanarell after the others all left. The heroes all made the connection between these visitors and the “doppelgänger” that they had faced several days earlier. So now they knew that there were another two of them.
Before Rag’azzahd left for his rest Grax asked him if, in his worldliness, he knew how to stop hired killers or pass around false information. Rag’azzahd suggested going where men of ill repute gathered. They all immediately thought of Rascoe’s Den.
After recovering somewhat Grax, Hoatzin, Kara and Nortrix all headed off to Rascoe’s Den. They travelled by roads they didn’t usually use (always main roads, never alleys) and made it to their destination without incident. At the Den, Grax, Hoatzin and Kara met with Rascoe while Nortrix kept a careful ear on the general talk of the common room. Rascoe didn’t seem surprised to learn that they had a price on their heads, but neither did he try and kill them. After they explained what they wanted, he agreed to pay some people to spread false information around the city. Kara paid the halfling and they all got ready to leave, when Grax asked him about how he, Rascoe, would go about trying to find the people trying to kill them. Rascoe thought a moment before saying that, for starters, he would find out who owned The Golden Star inn to see if they were involved.
Meanwhile, Nortrix had overheard two men (a half-elf and a human) discussing the price on the heads of his companions. As the two strangers rose to go outside he calmly intercepted them and used his powers of persuasion to convince them to abandon their intended goal.
Following Rascoe’s advice, the heroes then made their way to the Lanarell City Hall, where they hoped to find out who owned The Golden Star inn. They managed to meet wth a head clerk, who informed them that Lord Finthastle, the Keeper of the Archives of City Allotments, was too busy to see them that afternoon, but he was free on the following morning. So Grax arranged to meet with Lord Finthastle early the next day and then they all left. They were all then able to return to the estate without incident.
Much later that night, while the household was dark and silent, the noise of a ratline door handle woke both Hoatzin and Kara from their light slumbers (Nortrix, Kysmer and Grax slept on). Carefully they independently crept to their bedroom doors and listened, hearing the slight, unmistakeable sound of a door handle being tested again. Calmly, Hoatzin opened his door and crept out into the almost pitch-black corridor to see what was up, silent except for the snick of his door unlatching. Alert, Kara slowly and silently opened her own door to be able to dimly see Molly, the stable hand, crouched in front of the door to Rag’azzahd’s room. Manifesting her psychic weapon she demanded that Molly stop what she was doing as Hoatzin rounded the corner to also be able to dimly see what was going on. Letting out a frustrated cry, Molly then spun and began to tense so Hoatzin stepped up threateningly only to watch in horror as Molly’s features melted away before his eyes. In a matter of moments the stable hand was gone and a doppelgänger stood in her pace. All too briefly battle was joined, but after two swift blows to the head from Kara’s psychic weapon the shape changer fell.
Within moments the corridor was soon filled with the other heroes (and Rag’azzahd, who’s door had also been bolted from the inside). Hoatzin fetched and lit a lamp from his room while Kysmer secured the prisoner with some rope from his own room. Then they revived the creature and tied to get answers from it, but it proved intractable. Repeatedly they felt it try to enter their minds and each time they punished it, only to have Grax revive it once again. Eventually, after it had assumed the forms of both Grax and Hoatzin they finally slew the captive and ended its suffering.
In the meantime Kara and Kysmer had discovered the dead town guards (who had been there to keep an eye of Rag’azzahd) and so they all began rousing the household. As dawn was rapidly approaching, this wasn’t too disruptive. With Eleanor’s assistance they arranged a thorough search of the grounds and with the sun’s rays just breaking the darkness they discovered the body of the real Molly, dead several days and hidden in a storage shed behind the barn beneath a pile of hay.