10 Gozran 4716, Sunday, Aria Park
It has been two days since the devastation that the people of Kintargo have begun calling “The Night of Ashes”. When all was accounted for, it was found that three buildings had burned to the ground and for some, they have found that their neighbors have simply disappeared. Confusion, fear and anger have spread amongst the people of the city.
Questions are being asked and topics debated in the taverns, the academies, guildhalls and the streets. “Why was lord-mayor Jilia Bainilus sent to Anchor’s End?” “What are Barzillai Thrune’s plans for the city?” “What has become of the opera diva Shensen who disappeared?” “Why has the Order of the Torrent been so quiet and why is the Order of the Rack here?” “Where have those who disappeared two nights before gone?” “What is happening to the Silver City?”
It is announced that Paracount Barzillai Thrune will address the city this afternoon. Not from Andos Hall, as was always done in the past, but from the balcony of the Kintargo Opera House, overlooking Aria Park. The Opera House is now occupied by the Inquisitor and his entourage. The anticipated Huntress of Heroes, and indeed, all further operas and performances of the season have been cancelled.
It is under one of Kintargo’s rare crystal blue skies that people gather in the park. Looking around you see people huddled together, many looking resolute and defiant as they wait for the Paracount to make an appearance, but you count less than 100 people. The park is eerily quiet. A gaunt, particularly unattractive woman stands on the steps before the closed door, surrounded by a squad of dottari. A murder of crows noisily alights from a nearby tree as you see mounted Hellknights close in from either end of the avenue. They reign their horses to a stop, about 100 feet away and seem to stand there silently regarding the crowd.
Finally, the silence is pierced as trumpeters begin sounding from the windows of the Opera House. The March of the Thrice-Damned House Triumphant echoes across the park and the doors of the balcony slowly open to reveal an imposing, middle aged man, wearing an ornate breastplate emblazoned with the pentagram of Asmodeus and the cross of Cheliax. Smiling, he gestures with an open hand across the park, bowing to those gathered below.
“My dear countrymen, thank you for gathering here to visit me so I might share with you my plan to combat our recent troubles. I will not lie to you. The fear engendered by the threat of zealots such as those of the Glorious Reclamation often pushes men to acts of depravity. We saw the results of this the night before last. Foul cultists of Rovagug burned down a beloved drinking establishment! Tiefling knaves sought to burglarize and destroy the home of a talented diva! Ungrateful and envious house servants burnt down the home of the noble Victocora family! Luckily for us all, the dottari of this fine city acted quickly and decisively with our gracious friends and allies in the Order of the Rack. Many of the blackguards were apprehended and many more falsehearted individuals have been taken in for questioning.” He smiles widely as he leans over the railing. He raises a fist. “I have been sent by our Queen to guide you along a loyal path and guide you I shall!”
“It has become clear to me that I must take an active hand in affairs to keep us safe before the march of the Glorious Reclamation and the chaos their very name engenders! Until I can be sure that you, my charges, are safe, I must enact martial law in this city. You must obey any official deputy of the state without question! Furthermore, as lawlessness can only flourish in the shadow of darkness, I am forced to enact a curfew from 9:00 post meridiem until 6:00 ante meridiem each night. Please assist us in protecting your homes and cooperate! I have also devised seven other proclamations. Take them to heart and you shall lead a more virtuous life.” He regards the crowd for a moment and then, putting his hand to his heart, he declares: “Fear not my countrymen. I am a son of House Thrune who brought order to this land after the death of Aroden and who bends even Hell itself to our will! I speak for our Queen when I say we shall protect this land no matter the cost!”
With that, he bows before the audience again and retires to the interior of the Opera House. The people are taken aback. Some mumble, some shout and curse. The Devil’s Bells begin to toll while the gaunt woman at the door unfurls a scroll, reading from it Thrune’s seven proclamations. When she finishes, the Hellknights part to let the people pass. Many tell each other this cannot be allowed to stand. Others proclaim that it’s about time the hand of justice reign in this town’s libertines. As the attendees see criers have already preceded them, spreading the news to the city, the feeling that a time of turmoil is brewing is unmistakable.