War of the Burning Sky

Act II [Scene 4]: "The Safe House"

Torrentguides the party to a nearby temple of the Order of the Aquiline Cross, a gathering place for resistance members. The temple is packed with at least a hundred nervous people, all squeezed into a 40-foot circular prayer chamber and adjacent rooms. Many are nervously relating rumors of how the battle at the main gates is going. Priests tend to the wounded, their healing capability all but expended.

Torrentleads the heroes to an ornate door behind the altar area and opens it. Stairs leading down into a crypt are guarded by two large half-orcs. The underground area contains supplies and weapons for the resistance. Rivereye, coughing almost non-stop, is taken to the infirmary.

Resistance members guide the party to a small room with sleeping pallets. They are then given an opportunity to take an extended rest.

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Act II [Scene 3]: "Fallen Devil"

The streets are nearly empty as most of the citizens have sought shelter. The night is cold and the sky glows from the many fires still raging throughout the city. High above, the screech of battle fills the air as the Gate Pass griffon riders clash with Ragesian wyverns.

Looking up, you see the shape of a bat-winged creature collide with a griffon and both combatants flip from the impact, nearly throwing their riders off as they fall towards the ground. Somehow the griffon rider recovers and turns west towards the battle, but the other creature plummets into the roof of a low building directly in front of your path.

For a few seconds an eerie calm surrounds the building. Then a woman’s scream echoes down the street and suddenly stops, followed by the cry of a child. The party moves to investigate. With the wyvern dead, the rider has killed a woman and taken an infant hostage. When confronted, Flaganus thrusts the child in front of him and clumsily places his axe blade across the child’s throat. With a choking, slightly gurgling voice, he demands that the heroes let him leave.

The party refuses, and Flaganus cuts the child’s throat. “Right, then,” he proclaims raising his battleaxe in defiance, “at least my mates won’t have to worry about you anymore.” The Ragesian foe is defeated, and the heroes hurrying to catch up with Torrentand Rivereye.

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Act II [Scene 2]: "A Plea for Recovery"

While the party takes a short rest, Rivereyesits down on the floor and tells his story:

“So, Peppin is gone,” Rivereyesays with a sigh. “The loss is great in my eyes, though I fear few would agree. Life has become so cheap in these dark days. As a servant in the imperial palace, I saw things that put all faith in a good future to the test. Oh! How I wish the Inquisitors had not enslaved my lips and hands to never reveal what I know.”

“But I realized others could see what I know! That is why you are here tonight. That case is valuable because it contains all of what I cannot say. It must be retrieved and sent to Lyceum!”

Rivereyerelates how he convinced the imposter that the case was trapped. He also overheard the solon talking with the eladrin about a contact at Gabal’s school, a Shahalesti named Shealis, and an escape tunnel to the Singing Chasm that is one week away from completion.

Finally, the gnome describes the case – black metal, about a foot long and wide and half a foot deep, made of adamantine with a lock. As he describes it, he realizes something and points to a Wall Armor and a Bear Spirit Armor left by Larionas he prepared his disguise. He offers them to the party as a reward and starts a coughing fit that suggests the gnome’s strength is flagging.

Torrentrecommends taking shelter in a nearby temple, under which lies one of the resistance’s many safe houses.

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Act II [Scene 1]: "The Depository"

Torrent produces a key that allows the party to bypass the dwarf and orc guards, and the chaos of the city disappears as the party enters the depository tower. Unfortunately, a Shahalesti eladrin spy named Larionhas breached the highly secure building and now holds Rivereye captive. LarionLarionhas disguised himself to appear as Rivereyeand, upon seeing the group, heads down the ramp to greet them. He has no idea that Peppin is dead and assumes that Torrentis Peppin.

Larionaddresses Torrentas Peppin, inviting her to follow him, and the party ignores his error. He leads them to the second floor and pauses before a random locker to request the password. Rivereyehas convinced Larionthat the case they are after is trapped and only Peppin has the password to disable it. Torrentknows nothing about a password and explains that Peppin is not with them. When Larionrealizes that he will not get the password, he immediately flees to the third floor, and the wisp solon that accompanies him attacks. The solon is defeated, but Larionescapes.

After the fight, the guards order the party to yield their weapons. A search of the tower locates the unconscious guards and Rivereye. Awakened and unbound, the gnome notices Peppin’s signet ring and with some hesitation, asks for the code-phrase, which Torrent freely recites. Saddened to learn of Peppin’s recent demise, Rivereyehails the party as saviors and explains that Larionsent the case to a Shahalesti hideout.

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Act I [Scene 3]: "The City Under Attack"

The streets fill with panicked people, and a battle begins on the nearby west wall. Townsfolk rush about putting out fires and seeking the shelter of temples, and soldiers hurry to their posts, slowed by the throng and chaos. All the while, bells ring urgent warnings up and down the mountain pass.

The mass of people surging about in near darkness makes travel difficult as the party heads for the rendezvous with Rivereye. Along the way, they offer aid to the wounded and attempt to save a women from a burning building. A block away from the gate that leads to the next district, the press of people fleeing eastward grows considerably, preventing exit from the western ward. Several party members are overcome with an irrational panic, fleeing through the crowd as the citizens flail and tear at each other in terror. Only the dragonborn maintains a sense of calm, and he notices a crimson, bat-winged shape the size of a house swooping through the sky overhead. As it passes out of view over other buildings, a surge of panicked screams rises along its path.

Finally regrouping on the other side of the gate, the party approaches the depository. just before arriving they help a well-dressed man finding his pet dire weasel Kiki and then arrive at the fenced compound.

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Act I [Scene 2]: "The Ambush"

After Torrent’s presentation, the conversation turns to planning an escape from the city, and plans are made to forge travelpapers. When the bells of the city’s celebration abruptly fall silent, the creaking of floorboards is heard overhead. Bounty hunters have followed Torrent to the pub and are preparing to launch a two-pronged assault.

Bounty hunters storm the pub, urging the heroes to drop their weapons and come quietly. Hoping to pincer the party, the bounty hunters press the attack upstairs as a Ragesian bomb strikes the tavern with a deafening boom. The roof is consumed in flaming oil that sprays around like a fiery rain. Outside, a dark, daunting figure on horseback rides off into the night.

An arm band identifies the attackers as the memberr of the Black Horse bounty hunters. The bounty hunters are widely credited with the recent disappearances of several lesser magic-users. The citizens of Gate Pass, wary of arcane spellcasters since the death of Emperor Coaltongue, view the bounty hunters as a benevolent defense force, and the city guard tolerates their presence as a stabilizing influence amid the recent unrest.

After a short rest, Torrentsuggests that the party hurry to the meeting with Rivereye, concerned that the firebombing might cause him to flee the city.

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Act I [Scene 1]: "The Poison Apple Pub"

The heroes are scheduled to meet someone named Torrentat the Poison Apple Pub a little before midnight on New Year’s Eve. They are told to enter by the side alley door. With fears of invasion high, the streets are fairly deserted and normal festivities are muted, letting the heroes travel unmolested.

The pub is about a mile from the western city wall in a poorer district filled with slush-covered 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.

The pub is a two-story building attached by a rooftop bridge to an abandoned house on the right. A stable is to the building’s left. The front door and windows are boarded up, and the curtains are drawn. An official notice is posted on its door:

Poison apple pub notice

The alleys on both sides of the pub are littered with debris and the fetor of drunkenness. An overhead bridge shadows a door on the right side, and the alley is blocked at the end by refuse and broken furniture. When the heroes knock on the alley door, a moment passes, and then it cracks open. A tall, well-tanned woman with short white hair peeks out into the alleyway and looks both ways. She lets the heroes in, gesturing to a single table where she has set up a lamp, map, several mugs, and a small keg of beer.

The darkened pub appears empty, its many tables and chairs pushed to one wall and covered with sheets. A single table with enough chairs for all of you sits in the middle of the room. A small oil lamp and a keg sit on top of it, along with several mugs. Unless the shadows beyond hide more, your group and the woman are the only people in the room.

Torrent

A staircase leads upstairs, located in a corner of the common room and beside the bar. The windows and door facing the street are closed and boarded up from the outside. On the wall behind the bar hangs a bronze bust of the former emperor of Ragesia, Drakus Coaltongue, a regal, aged half-orc with a scar cutting diagonally across his face.

While you are settling down, the woman picks up a mug of beer and speaks. “Good evening, all. My name is TorrentTorrent. Thanks for coming,” She gestures towards the keg and mugs, and with a wan smile says, “Have a drink. Just because we’re about to go to war doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the New Year.” She then takes a pull of her mug and sits down. For a few minutes, through small talk and friendly banter, the New Year is celebrated.

Torrentgrimaces, straightens in her chair and bitterly sighs, “That’s one year gone.” She shakes her head a little, then looks over the table towards you and quietly says, “I guess it’s time to get down to business.”

“The city’s in trouble. The Ragesian army is marching on us and will most likely be here tomorrow. Before then, we have a mission. I used to study at a magic academy to the south, called Lyceum. They’re good people. So when word reached them about Ragesia’s ‘Scourge,’ they sent out messages calling for anyone fleeing Ragesia to come to them. They want to stand against the Ragesians, and the resistance wants their help. We just need to get a message to them.”

“Normally we would have sent something by teleporting courier, but something strange is going on with planar magic. The last courier who teleported into Gate Pass, well, rumor is that he showed up burnt to a crisp. Not that I have that sort of magic anyway, but if we’re going to talk to Lyceum, we’re going to have to go overland. And that’s a problem because the city’s walls are sealed.”

“Ever since their emperor died, the Ragesians have been trying to show that they’re not weak, and they’re marching an army in our direction because the mountain pass we’re in is apparently ‘strategically valuable.’ Either way, a few idiots on the city council want to negotiate with the Ragesians, and rumor is they’re going to invite a group of Inquisitors into the city to look for ‘magic-users who are hostile to the empire.’ They’ve sealed the gates of the city so no one can escape to make sure they look like they’re cooperating, and only military personnel can get in or out.”

“We’re going to have to get out of the city, and I’m open to suggestions on how. Once we’re out, I can get us safely to Lyceum, but before we get ahead of ourselves, we have a mission tonight.”

“The short version is that we’ve got to meet a contact — a gnome named Rivereye Badgerface — in about an hour at a guarded depository about a half-mile from here. He’s carrying a case of vital military intelligence that he stole from the Ragesian palace, and the heads of the resistance think that it needs to reach Lyceum. We’ve got to get that case, get out of the city, and get far away from here before the idiot city council lets the Ragesian Inquisitors in. Once that happens, the odds of us escaping are ” she finishes off her mug of beer in one long guzzle “ slim.”

“I know I’d love to stay here and fight against the Ragesians, but I’m no soldier, and this mission might be more important. Worst case, you get away from the Ragesians and we can part ways a few days down the road. Best case, you can come with me to Lyceum, and we come back with an army of our own to drive off the Ragesians. But we’ve got to act fast either way.”

“Are you ready for this?”

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