War of the Burning Sky
Scourge Act 1
The Scouring of Gate Pass
New Year’s Eve is normally a time for revelry and celebration. This frigid night, however, the streets are eerily quiet. An entire army is on the march for Gate Pass, and panic has spread throughout the city.
The citizens fear that they will not be able to resist the might of the Ragesian military. The city leaders are bowing under pressure and have barred exit from the city, intending to welcome the Inquisitors that come with the army in the hope that the Ragesians will reward their cooperation with mercy. Gate Pass has been neutral since the end of their last war some decades ago. That neutrality is about to be put to the test. The Ragesian army is nearly at Gate Pass’s doorstep, so time is short.
By now, every magic-user in Gate Pass knows of the Scourge. The Emperor of Ragesia is rumored to have died barely a month ago, and a witch named Leska has moved to cement herself as the next emperor of Ragesia. Leska, leader of the Ragesian Inquisitors, has decreed that all disloyal users of arcane magic are to be tracked down as potential threats to the empire.
The city is torn by the current events. Many arcane casters of magic provide useful services to the community, helping defense and construction, and even presiding over religious services. However, when given the choice between being conquered and handing over their neighbors, most of Gate Pass is more interested in protecting the greater good, which as they see it means protecting themselves. Indeed, many in the city have grown to resent the city’s magic-users for being the cause of their problems, to the point that the city council has decreed that magic-users should turn themselves over to the city guard, and no one is being allowed to leave the city unless on official business.
A local resistance movement devoted to keeping both the Ragesians and the Shahalesti out of the city has gathered vital military intelligence, and they need messengers to deliver the information to allies at a distant wizard’s school. With all their strongest warriors preparing to hold back the Ragesian assault, this vital mission falls to a party of inexperienced heroes…
You volunteered for the resistance just two days ago and were asked to meet someone at the Poison Apple Pub a little before midnight on New Year’s Eve, and to enter by the side alley door. The pub has been closed since its owner was arrested, but the owner’s wife has allowed use of the building for the evening.
With fears of invasion high, the streets are fairly deserted and normal festivities are muted. The pub is about a mile from the western city wall in a poorer district filled with slushcovered cobblestone streets and gloomy, snow-filled alleyways. The night is dark and claustrophobic, and the buildings of the city loom over the shadowy streets. There are no lights in most windows.