War of the Burning Sky

Chapter 1
Start of Chapter 1

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It is New Year’s Eve, and near midnight on this frigid evening the heroes gather in a small condemned tavern in the Free Citystate of Gate Pass. Located in the mountain pass which separates two hostile nations — Ragesia and ShahalestiGate Pass has been neutral since the end of their last war, but now from Ragesia a scourge comes for the city.

By now, every magic-user in Gate Pass knows of the Scourge. The Emperor of Ragesia died barely a month ago, and in a move to cement herself as the next emperor of Ragesia, Leska, leader of the Ragesian inquisitors, has decreed that all disloyal users of magic — arcane or divine — are to be tracked down and killed, to prevent future threats to the empire.

To carry out Leska’s command, the inquisitors, clerics specialized in countermagic, travel with military escorts to the borders of Ragesia. Their first target is Gate Pass, its neutrality long viewed as an insult to the nation’s honor. Those who resist them will have to face the searing power of the Ragesian Empire.

An entire army marches for Gate Pass, and the people of the city 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 the exit from the city, intending to welcome the inquisitors that come with the army, for they foolishly hope that the Ragesians will reward their cooperation with mercy.
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 — the player characters.

The Ragesian army is nearly at Gate Pass’s doorstep, so time is short. The war is about to begin.

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The Secret Meeting
War comes to Gate Pass
  • Gate Pass city council decides to turn over magic users to the Ragesian Inquisitors. Erdan Menash complains to Content Not Found: orvus-hurt 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, Content Not Found: orvus-hurt, 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:
    PoisonAppleNotice.jpg
  • 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 Content Not Found: mysterious-stranger-1 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.

Kathor_Danave.jpg

  • 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
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The Journal of Rand
Entry 1

By the burning balls of the Flamebringer Dragon! What just happened?! Rumors are one thing, but suddenly to have the Council roll over for the Ragesian Inquisition, to have people planning rebellion in secret meetings against an enemy who is only rumored to be at your gate, and then to have that enemy show up in the middle of the night with wyrven’s, dragon pitch, and actual dragons?! Well that is a little much.

I am all for a conspiracy, just as much as the next fellow, but I can’t help feeling like like someone had this all planned out for me. But why me? I’m nobody really, and now I’ve been stuck with a few other nobody’s (Well maybeOrvas is somebody, he’s at least the bastard son of someone who thinks they’re important enough to sell out the whole city) to escortTorrent (Some water priestess with oceanic delusions – hello, look around…mountains) to some other like minded resistance fighters somewhere to the east.

My brother always said I had my head so far up my own ass that all I could see was what my dick was looking at (strangely I kind of liked that analogy), and it pains me to admit he may have been right. Wars, assassinations, armies….I always knew these things happened, but not here, not on my doorstep. But now my family is in danger and my city is burning. I cannot just stand on the walls and fight all of Ragesia on my own, I can’t just let my family’s home be overrun. I can’t just run (I mean really, there’s an ocean in the way. What do I do when I get there? Swim? I am a mountain boy, beside I’m told that water is like poison…)

So I look to the allies I do have. Shay , a crazed farmer-shaman with an accent that seems to be barely decipherable (I mean really, do all the farmers talk like that? I really have to get out more….or do I…). Orvus (or Orvass) who is a civic minded layabout like myself (in the layabout respect), andVola who is the most strangely attractive half-orc I have ever seen (those little tusks are so adorable) who I have seen break a man’s legs with one swing of a hammer. In her defense he was stabbing at her with a pointy stick.

Torrent might be an friend, or she just might be a manipulative, paranoid, sociopath sexy priestess (why are all priestesses hot? or really why is it I find all priestesses hot?).

All I know now is that these people are my best chance for getting my family out of Gate Pass and maybe finding some solution to whats about to happen to us.
War.

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Shey's Diary, Page One

Auntie always told me that they would be back. That they would come with monsters on the wind and fire in the sky. Even with all of her warnings I never could have prepared for what happened. For what I’ve seen so far. I know that she is safe, I know that no band of mere thugs could hope to overpower her. But still I pray to veins of the world that I am right.

To think that all of this is happening just to “avenge” some conqueror, who’s throne was built from the blood of the common people. The lords in their towers don’t care about the poor being stepped on. It’s all just a game to them, a game which always seems to end in genocide.

To think that the Mayor would allow these monsters access to my home, to think that he would let them steal children from the streets, and the elderly from their beds. To think that he would turn his back on his people and let them be slaughtered in the streets like cattle. He will see justice. Him, and every Ragasian lord and general who think that they own us. They have built themselves beds of tinder and straw, and thought themselves unable to burn. They will soon learn their mistake. The people will rise, scores of them will die, but they will succeed, and those who stand atop the ashes will have learned that it was they who had the power all along.

I do not fully understand what Torie’s plans are, but I have a feeling that she knows much more than I, and I will follow where she leads. I honestly have yet to catch the names of any of my fellows. But that half-Orc seems to be a magic user, and one of good character. The other two, the humans, they seem interesting. Less trustworthy. Both of them have shown to be willing to help. One of them at least is a lordling of some kind. I will try not to let first impressions guide my decisions.

Waters preserve us, I hope Torie has a plan. I won’t lose my home. Not again.

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Orvas' Journal
Page 1

I have never been a fan of Ragesia, but I can honestly say I’m surprised. It’s one thing to want to find a killer, but dragon bombing? This is an act of war, and totally absurd.
My father and the council were of no help, since they invited them in.
Rantle introduced me to a friend of his and a couple fine ladies.
Erdan and one of the ladies told me to go south to Lyceum.
I hope we can get help before my home is reduced to ash.
I’ve never left Gate Pass before.

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Retrieving the Case

Goal: Retrieve the case containing vital military intelligence from the gnome Rivereye Badgerface

  • At the depository tower, the heroes found Rivereye, who referred to Shey as “Peppin” and asked for the password to open a depository box. When they said they didn’t have a password, Rivereye said he might have it in his other cloak, and left. Rand picked the lock on the box, and inside was a beautiful silk embroidery of a Ostaliner noble.
  • Searching the tower, the fourth floor contained three unconscious dwarves, one dead half-orc, and one unconscious gnome. However, the first Rivereye seemed to have vanished (i.e. did not exit through the front door).
  • Upon rousing the real Rivereye, he said that there were three elves that had a contact at Gabal’s School of War, and he asked them to retrieve the case.
  • At Gabal’s, they ran into Diogenes, who said an elf named Shealis has recently had an elven visitor
  • They cornered Shealis in her room and Shey convinced her to cooperate. She led the heroes to a safe house in an elven ghetto.
  • Rand began talking to an invisible (or imaginary) person, and managed to convince the elves in the safe house that invisible Ragesians were surrounding the place. In the chaos that ensued, Rand swapped the case with a toolbox and the heroes escaped with the case.

Goal: Get out of Gate Pass, and deliver the case to Simeon in Lyceum

  • They visited the Temple of the Aquiline Cross where Buron Watcher suggested a way out of the city – by pretending to be guards, which would require the assistance of someone with military rank or political influence.
  • Orvas suggested visiting Erdan Menash, the councilman, who was able to tell them that the Second Ragesian Army consisting of more than ten thousand troops was outside Gate Pass, demanding to let the Ragesian Inquisitors inside the city. Tonight’s attack was just an initial assault, and the defenders were able to drive them off, but if Gate Pass does not meet their demands, the second attack will be much worse. Gabal, head of the School of War, was in favour of tricking the Inquisitors into the city where they can be overwhelmed by the arcane force of the school.
  • Shey learned that people who had been arrested were being held in a nearby mansion, but the true threats, including Targashal, had been moved elsewhere, probably to Ragesia.
  • Erdan Menash gave a writ to Captain Herreman, a friend, who is scheduled to go on a scouting mission at dawn. The writ increased the recommended size of the patrol by 11
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Orvas' Journal
Page 2

I’ve never been in the Elven district before. It’s a weird place. I will admit to being a fair bit concerned as to why there were spies after whatever it is we’re carrying. That means that it was worth sending them, and they know that we have it. I don’t think I’ve seen the last of them.
Erdan is a very good man. if I return from whatever it is I’ve signed myself up for I must thank him.
Rand also, actually. I wish I had family like that.
We are about to set off on our expedition outside the city. I always used to think the scouts were so cool. Well I guess I’ll see.
I am so tired.

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Rand - Rambling thoughts and observations

The sequence of the following events may appear to be out of order, but I assure you they make perfect sense in my head.
I get it Shey, you’re worried. Worried about your war hero aunt. Worried that the woman who helped drive off the Ragasian’s in the last war might have gotten herself into a bit of trouble, that she might need some help. All I have to worry about is my Ragasian father, you know, the cobbler, and my Shahalesti seamstress mother. My worry over them is likely unfounded, I mean whats the worse that could happen if the Ragasian’s gain a foothold in Gate Pass or even the Shahalesti. They should be safe right? I may have overreacted a little when you started spewing on about the barbarian Ragasian’s being allowed into the city by a compliant City Council. I might have been a little to concerned that my sister would be upset as you described the endless atrocities that would be visited upon the people of Gate Pass. But I understand, you’re worried about your aunt, the woman who once split the earth to swallow a legion of Ragasian’s whole with but the merest flick of her wrist, it’s understandable.

Insane. These people are all insane. Let me short form it for you.
Fire.
Dragons.
Screaming.
Torrent – Let’s get out of the city.
So far so good. But then…
Torrent – But first lets swing by the Depository to pick up some things. Don’t worry, I’ve got an account there, they’ll let me in.
To the Depository!
Depository Guards are calm cool and collected. Likely a result of such a severe state of shock upon seeing a dragon lay waste to the city that all they can do is nod and answer questions.
Inside we find a gnome, no two gnomes, three elves, a dwarf and several unconscious guards. Someone shell gamed the gnomes (Is he here is he there where oh where is out little gnome? Oh there he is, unconscious on the floor.) And then we are off to the Academy to get what we didn’t get at the Depository.
To the Academy!
Diogenes – calm, cool, collected, puffing on a cigarette, watching the ladies go by. Obviously also in shock. Elf, elf, who’s got the elf?
Shealis – Like Shay, but somehow…less. An unwitting dupe, or a diabolical traitor? Only time will tell. Her finger pointing helps her case. And we are off to the Elven Ghetto to once again find what we didn’t find in the academy and wasn’t in the Depository.
To the Ghetto!
Voice – If you give me the case I will get the elves. (Sure thing crazy voice in my head)
Me – Hey you elves, ‘run’, or the Ragasian’s will get you.
Quick switch the case. Shell games.
Voice – Give me the case (dundundunnnn)
Me – Look over there, it’s a case (it’s a less than Shay sized bag)
RUN.
To the church! The church? Wait, there’s a sing along.
Orvas Hurt – The councilman can get us out of the city.
To the Councilman’s house!
Butler – He’s not here.
To the Council Chambers!
Erdan Menash – Oh yes, what you little people thought was rumour and hearsay, we knew to be actual fact for weeks now (insert evil yet comforting laugh), we thought would be best you not really know it might have disrupted the New Years day pageant.
(Insert the sound of my head rattling off the nearest wall repeatedly)

Yes….that was the short form…
I just want to get my family somewhere safe. They’re simple folk, not fighters or war hero’s, not wizards or, or, or anyone really. Please.

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Vola's Journal

I don’t want to admit that I’m scared. The Ragesians are at our doorstep, throwing dragon fire at this town I’ve come to call home. I can’t bear to run away, to leave all these people to the mercy of the Ragesians. I have seen Ragesian ‘mercy’, and it is not something I ever wanted to see again. I have to believe that if the people of Gate Pass surrender, they will not suffer. I have to believe that leaving town will allow me to help. Still, I wonder if I should stay – stay and heal, even stay and fight.
It has been a long day. The town is on the verge of disaster and yet my comrades can’t seem to get along. Shey needs to understand that his rage is not the answer, he should be spreading compassion where he is spreading anger. Rand needs to take a look around him and understand that he is not the only person who feels something. They all must understand that we are in this together, for better or for worse, and we’re going to need to grit our teeth and cooperate. How can we hope to fight this war if the four of us can’t even get along?
Hopefully, once we leave Gate Pass the way will be clearer. I believe the spirits will help me find the path I must take. I have never felt so confused about my own mission. All I can do, for now, is try to assist those who need it, and see where that takes me.

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The Inquisitor
Escape from Gate Pass

Goal: Get out of Gate Pass, and deliver the intelligence to Simeon at Lyceum Academy

  • Upon leaving Erdan Menash’s house, the group discovers they are being followed by bounty hunters disguised as city guardsmen
  • At Captain Herreman’s barracks, they are told they are leading a patrol to hunt down a Ragesian necromancer desecrating a graveyard. This is, of course, the cover story, and the heroes begin to get equipped as city guard.
  • Rand’s father tells him that he and Rand’s mother, as well as his brother Stalwart would be staying in the city, but Rand was to take care of Grace, Revel, and Sendell
  • On the way to the city gate, Rantle slips Rand a scroll case, and asks him to give it to his sister, Katrina, if they find her. “She’s red haired, too pretty for her own good, really, a stereotypical fire mage.”
  • The group manage to get some rest in an abandoned watch tower outside of Gate Pass, but when they awake, they discover a rider had passed them on the road
  • The group is ambushed in the pass by the same group of bounty hunters as before, and the mysterious stranger is again encountered. Kathor Danava is promoted to the new leader of the Black Horse Bounty Hunters after the old leader runs away like a scared child.
  • Near the Fire Forest of Innenotdir, a young woman was standing in the middle of the road waiting for them, near a farmhouse. She said, “The Scourge comes, and the skulls of the dragon pursue you. I saw it in a dream.” Then she asked the heroes to take her and her father with them.
    Haddin_and_Crystin.jpg
  • Her father turned out to be a not great person, but Rand managed to convince him to leave with them.
  • As they left, an Inquisitor and his men came out of the entrance of the pass. They said that they were there for the old man, and if they released him, no one would be harmed.
    Inquisitor_Boreus.JPG
  • The group’s response was to flee into the Fire Forest of Innenotdir
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