- Gate Pass city council decides to turn over magic users to the Ragesian Inquisitors. Erdan Menash complains to that the city is run by morons
- A few days later, Shey is accosted in the witch market, which is shutting down, by thugs, and Rand intervenes
- A gathering of clergy of the local religious community debate whether to turn themselves in, deciding to wait at least until after the Festival of Dreams
- Shey returns home, to find her aunt Targashal has disappeared with evidence of a struggle
- Torrent and Vola discuss these matters, when Shey bursts in, irate. They head to the Poison Apple Pub
- Meanwhile, Rantle, , and Rand are enjoying drinks at the same pub when Rantle decides to introduce his friends to Torrent
- The city guard come to arrest Trehan Finner, owner of the pub, and a bar brawl breaks out. The patrons are victorious, until the guard returns with reinforcements.
- Torrent decides to do something about this, and everyone agrees to meet again at the Poison Apple Pub
- The next day, the pub is closed down, with the following note on the door:
- Torrent shares some information that sounds a little bit like this:
“The city’s in trouble. The Ragesian army is marching on us, and will be here by 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, 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, since 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 get out, 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 as to 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 which 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?”
- The clock struck midnight, but after the bells stopped, two things happened almost simultaneously: a creak on the floorboards above and a battering ram at the front door indicated the pub was being broken into; and a Ragesian Dragonbomb exploded on the pub’s roof
- The immediate attackers were some sort of bounty hunters, they wore red armbands with a picture of a black horse’s head, and writing in Ignan, and claimed they were there for the bounty on spellcasters
- A was watching the bounty hunters; he seemed affiliated with them but did not get involved, other than to cast a protective spell on himself. He ordered his men to fall back and then he rode off on a horse.
- The city was under attack by winged monsters dropping bombs and breathing fire. Rand went to make sure his family was okay, and found his father trying to help some children escape out a window
- Dragons and wyverns flew overhead, causing panic and mayhem amongst the people
- Eventually, the heroes made it to the depository tower