The instructions left at your resistance dead drop were brief, but clear, be at the Poison Apple Pub a little before midnight on New Year’s Eve to meet a contact that goes by Torrent, and to use the alley door.
The people of the city know an army is on the way, so the streets are fairly deserted and normal New Year's eve festivities muted, as you head to your rendezvous. The pub is in a poorer district about a mile from the western city wall, full of slush-covered cobblestone streets and dark, snow-filled alleyways. The evening is dark and claustrophobic, the multistory buildings of the city looming in the night, no lights in most windows.
The pub is a two-story building attached by a rooftop bridge to a neighboring house. The door and windows are boarded up, and the curtains drawn. A notice has been posted on its door:
Trehan Finner, owner of the Poison Apple Pub, has been taken into temporary custody under the protection of the city guard, until such time that he can be questioned by representatives of the Ragesian Empire, and found innocent of hostile collusion. The Poison Apple Pub is hereby closed until further notice.
The alley door opens a crack at your knock, but is soon opened fully by a tall, distinctive looking woman with tanned skin and short white hair who invites you inside. The darkened pub is mostly empty, its many tables and chairs pushed to one wall and covered with sheets. A single table sits in the middle of the room, with several chairs around it. A small oil lamp and a keg sit on top of it, along with several mugs. At the back corner of the common room beside the bar, a staircase leads upstairs. The windows and door facing onto the street are closed, and you know they have been 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.
“Thanks for coming,” the woman says. “Have a drink. Just because we’re about to go to war doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the new year. We'll get started once everyone is here."
Once everyone has chimed in, we'll get this show on the road.