Bellum Caeli Flagrantis
As the new year dawns, weather across the lands of Ragesia takes a sudden chill turn. The sky darkens with the shades of oncoming winter, and worry rises as regular channels of communication between nations suddenly cease. Throughout the lands claimed by the Ragesian Empire, rumors slowly spread between isolated villages, traveling by foot and horse and word of mouth, rumors that Drakus Coaltongue, the immortal emperor whose armies conquered every land he set his gaze upon, has fallen in a distant land to the west. The populace of the Lands does not know how the tyrant was defeated, but if it is true, everyone knows that a war is coming. The generals of Emperor Coaltongue will strike for control, oppressed peoples will rise up in rebellion, and dangers once held in check only by fear of the immortal emperor will bring doom to the world.
Those in power are preparing for the coming conflict, readying fervent armies and powerful weapons and subtle, deceptive plots, but two questions burn in their minds: who killed the immortal Emperor Coaltongue; and what has become of the artifact that would let a man rule of the world? Who has the Torch of the Burning Sky?
While once news reached the Free City- State of Gate Pass by weekly teleporting courier, that channel has gone silent, and now what little news there is must travel by the old routes of rumor — travelers from the outside world.
Emperor Drakus Coaltongue, ruler of the mighty Ragesian Empire which lies to the west of Gate Pass, has been slain in a distant nation, or so the rumors say. Of course, the rumors once said that Coaltongue was immortal. However, no one doubts the tales of armies mustering in Ragesia, with orders to secure the borders of the empire at this time of weakness and uncertainty. And from Shahalesti, the eladrin nation east of Gate Pass, the rumors say its ruler seeks to claim the vulnerable Ragesia for his people.
And so Gate Pass sits, alone in its mountain pass, one of the few safe routes between these two belligerent and antagonistic nations. For weeks the people of Gate Pass have been saying war would inevitably come to the city, and now the rumors are coming true.