High Pass - Humble Beginnings

High Pass Tabard



Winter Fell - DM's Notes
First Six Months' Duty

After the adventurers had thwarted the attempted stable heist, Sir Barrister and the rest of the officers decided that it was time to give them a bit more responsibility within the fort – while some might have seen this as possible punishment, others clearly saw it as a sign that these were more than mere apprentices. The adventurers were called into Sir Barrister’s home and it was decided that they would be allowed to take on some of the more active duties of the watch instead of the standard “ground and pound” of the novices. While still not veterans, they nevertheless were about to enjoy some of the more “rigorous” tasks befitting people of their status.

The next morning, the adventurers were informed at breakfast that they would be taking over some of the instructors’ duties for the time-being; this meant that they would be instructing the novices in the basic arts. Martial combat, magical research, spellcasting, divine theory, and more were all now handed over to the adventurers as they left with their respected instructors and met with the novices to begin training. The next three days proved to be quite challenging, and not the least bit frustrating, as the adventurers learned that teaching was not as easy as it seemed. And while they taught, they also garnered a deeper appreciation for their own lessons in turn and learned much more than they realized at the time.

Life at the fort continued in this manner for a while with the adventurers rotating between guard duties, teaching duties, and the occasional day off. A few weeks into the routine, the adventurers were called to a different task – that of cleaning out the shrine. They met with the resident cleric who explained the duty to them as they cleaned out the upper level of the shrine, then proceeded down into the residence portion to complete a ritual that, as they later found, would renew the divine protection of the location and cleanse the area of any negative energy. Ritual complete, they went back to their regular duties without a moment’s thought.

Roughly a week later, they were called back to the same task to renew the ritual. But when they arrived, they found the cleric unconscious and under attack by a group of manes led by a dretch. They took no time in stepping into the situation and dealing with the demonic incursion and saving the cleric, who rewarded them for their bravery. In turn, they searched the area for any signs of magical tampering. One of them found traces of arcane magic that suggested conjuration magic of some sort, but nothing of a divine nature. Sir Barrister and one of his aides arrived to investigate further and the adventurers were released back to their quarters.

Life continued as normal in the fort, with the weather getting worse and worse until the snow reached over 6" and continued to blow throughout the night with an increasing storm. Already stiff and sore from their duties, and finding it difficult to sleep from the sound of the wind and the blistering cold, the adventurers were awoken to the sounds of alarm as the watch sergeant woke them for battle – an unknown threat had found its way into the fort somehow. The group bundled up and headed out into the freezing cold and snow, exhausted but ready to do their part.

They came upon a row of ropes dangling down from the cliff walls as the sergeant with them spied a group of orcs heading into the servants’ quarters. Charging into the nearest group, he ordered the adventurers into the house to save the servants. They ran to the front doors and quickly confronted the two guards standing post at the front area. At first, it was a chaotic scene with no one getting the upper hand as blades swirled, arrows flew, and magic erupted. Finally, the adventurers managed to get past the guards into the next room where they found several more orcs waiting in ambush. A few peppered the group with arrows from afar while some of them engaged with their greataxes. One of the adventurers attempted to put the group to sleep – a feat that seemed almost certain to work due to the conditions outside affecting everyone – but the orcs managed to shake it off and renew their attack, and the chaos increased as foes pressed against one another trying to gain ground against the other.

It was not long before a few of the orcs lost some of their numbers, but they were successful in causing problems of their own as well as they managed to drop one of the spellcasters with a particularly vicious swing of an axe. As the fight began to turn against the orcs, the adventurers spied reinforcements from the next room arrive – only they were not the friendly sort. A lone orc archer, along with a one-eyed orc caster and a brutish orc wearing plate armor, stepped into the fray and renewed the violence once more. The fight continued on in this manner, with neither side seeming to get the better of the other. The adventurers managed to kill off the last remaining orc archers while the brutish orc almost casually side-stepped an attack from the adventurers and chopped down yet another of their number. By the time the fight was over, the blood was spilled heavily on both sides, but the adventurers had not lost any of their own thanks in no small part to small hands that provided crucial healing. The adventurers found a massive sum of money on the bodies, much more than would normally be carried by a group of orcs. Too tired to think anything more about it for the moment, they helped clear out the dead and then headed back out into the snow and back to their bunks for some well-earned rest.

The fort had undergone a raid at several points, but it seemed a weak attack at-best. The fort only lost a few people for the sheer number of raiders it repelled or killed. Sir Barrister declared that while it seemed unusual for orcs, gnolls, and humanoid bandits to all be working together like this, the harsh weather could have accounted for it due to the food stores the fort keeps and the desperation the raiders might have been feeling. The adventurers were too tired to think anything more on the subject at the time and gratefully retired to their bunks to stave off the rest of their exhaustion they were suffering.

After a few days’ recovery, the adventurers were back to the same old routine that was life in the fort. And for the next few months, life seemed fairly simple for them all. Harsh winter turned into wet spring and then into blistering heat of an unusually hot summer. It is now six months from the time of that raid, and the adventurers once again find themselves called into the home of Sir Barrister. Only this time, they find not only the leader of the fort, but also two of his trusted officers standing next to him trying to hide the slight laughter and smiles as he announces the latest duty for the group…

Please I just want to Sleep

Koro felt tired. The cold and constant change of sleep schedule was taking its toll on his body and spirit. Normally he loved the winter months, it was the time for nature to rest and await its rebirth in the spring. Animals cared for their young in winter burrows or slumbered while their bodies created new life. But rest was not forthcoming for Koro his spirit was in turmoil and he was unable to enter his recuperative rest. He was tired. Ever since the demons left their unholy taint within his allowed place of worship. Then the Orcs had raided in the middle of the night. Koro was awake; he seems to always be awake anymore, at least that is how his soul felt, unrested. Then sweet rest was upon him. It didn’t come to him in the comfort of his bed. It was at the end of a spear. The last thing he heard as the spear came down was “Maybe it is your time to die, Natural Selection an all.” Dark oblivion consumed him and he was at rest, at peace, finally calm. Then the pain returned with the flickering of torches. Koro sat up and felt his spirit at peace. It wasn’t his time. He was strong. He was worthy. He gathered his friends and began to pray for the Ravaging Mother to bless them with health and strength.
After the event Koro felt a new surge of energy and motivation. He sought after Master Cleric Dom and asked if he could cleanse and repurpose one of the ritual rooms in the basement. He wished to create a small altar to his god. He was denied and told that the rooms were for all the residents and not just for his purpose. So Koro did the next best thing and asked Sgt. Garvin if he could create a small linear flower bed and set it up near his bed. He was given permission as long as it didn’t, and I quote “Smell like cow ass, dead shit or assault the delicate sensibilities of the other girls I was bunking with and as long as it didn’t take over the room like a hooker’s pillow collection.”
He set forth on his project to bring him closer to his deity and the faint memory of the peaceful slumber from that verdant blackout.

(Koro will more than likely be AFG for the next session or two)

A few days of repreive

“Another color flight, afar vadokanuk,” Burflag threw his hand in and waved the last of his gold toward Seraphina, who graciously nodded her head and collected her winnings from the group at the table.

“Luckiest game of three dragon I’ve seen, elf,” Troko, another player, said as he stood, his gold depleted. “Either luck, or you cheat.” The human reached for the sword at his hip.

Seraphina’s voice was soft and pleasant, without an air of venom, but somehow people always thought she was insulting them. “Please good sir, I have no quarrel with you, it is but a friendly game between comrades. Surely, a few coins is nothing to die over.”

Troko did not remove his hand from his sword, “Friendly my arse, whore.” The soldier drew his blade and lunged across the table. Seraphina wore no armor, and her robes were a fine cut, but they were a dancer’s garb, meant to allow freedom of movement, not protect from a longsword. The moment before the blade struck, Phina spoke quick word, and a flash of light sent the soldier’s sword rebounding from her skin and skittering across the floor. Phina remained seated as she calmly took a slow drink of her elven wine. Troko regathered himself and looked as if he was going to try again when the tavern’s bouncer “politely asked” him to leave.

After the commotion Seraphina tossed Burflag and the other players back the small pouches containing their lost coin. Burflag looked at her quizzically as she gathered her things and paid her bar tab. The halfling was confused for a long moment then smiled and left the tavern with the elf.

“You were cheating,” Burflag said as they entered the darkness of the streets.

“Four gambits in a row? Of course,” she smiled a smile that would win a kingdom.

Burflag laughed heartily for someone so small, “So why return your winnings?”

“All but Troko’s, I consider it a fee for being rude,” she corrected before continuing. “Gambling has a way of showing the true self, and I have trust issues,” the lithe elf said as she pulled the hood of her cloak up against the cold.

“And what did you learn?”

“Most of the soldiers at High Pass are honorable, if inexperienced, and at least one is going to get someone killed.”

A trio of shadows stepped from an alley way, their boot prints marring the freshly fallen snow, “You are the only one dying tonight, whore.” Troko and the two others had their blades out.

“I passed on your earlier expletive description of my attire, thinking you only spoke in ignorance and anger. Now I see you simply have a limited vocabulary and are more fit for the stable than the barracks,” Seraphina said in that same venomless voice, drawing her own blade, a thin long weapon, meant for precise strikes, not savage mutilation.

“Hahaha, we’ll see how well you being ridden then. Maybe when I’m done with you I’ll invite my boys to have a turn with the new barracks whore,” Troko made a crude gesture and moved forward menacingly.

Seraphina glanced at another shadow that moved slightly, Seraphina nodded and spoke softly, “Kaima”. The three soldiers’ eyes rolled back in their heads and they slumped to the ground. The shadow moved from the alley across the hall, revealing the small form of Master Shadow Hurgin and a pair of trainees.

“As you said, Apprentice, a useful combination of subterfuge, magic, and combat prowess. I doubted your approach when you volunteered for this mission.” The Master bound and gagged the offenders and woke them.

“If I may ask, Master Hurgin. What will happen to them?” Seraphina asked.

“It is of no concern to you, apprentice, but you may trust me when I say they won’t trouble you anymore. Sir Barrister does not tolerate this kind of behavior, and this one has had his share of warnings.” The spy master looked to the halfling standing beside the elf, “Burflag right? Help us along here.” The four departed, half guiding, half dragging the three assailants to the brig to await judgement.

“If only trust were so easy,” Phina said to the empty snow packed streets.

A New Dawn - DM's Notes
The First Month of Duty

The adventurers awoke this particular morning to something different – a summons from the head of the watch, Sergeant Garvin. They made their way to the wall where they were presented with their new tabards and gear as befitting the newest apprentices of the guard. Once they stowed their gear and returned, Sir Barrister said a few words of prayer over the group and left them to return to their duties.

Over the course of the next month, they began to realize that life in the guard was a life of routine. Patrolling the grounds, watching for signs of invaders, training in the center with the older veterans – life was filled with the endless task of the routine. Until…

One particular morning, one of the servants of the fort approached them as they made ready for morning patrol and asked for their assistance with some missing animals from the nearby village of Rojon. As Brice – the servant – was not known as a man who was dishonest, they followed him out to the flocks. As they left, one of the Scouts named Niavara took notice and accompanied them. They found the site and searched around until they discovered a large footprint obscured in the mud leading off towards the higher mountains. Niavara listened as they made the decision to follow and seemingly paid little attention to the group as they followed the scant clues that led to a large cave in the mountain walls. And from the caves they heard a voice humming and singing to itself. Before anyone could act, the voice called out and welcomed them to join it inside. As Niavara did not appear to be disturbed at this, the adventurers went inside and discovered a stone giant cooking the two missing sheep.

The giant, who introduced himself in the language of his people, was travelling between mountains ranges and “found” the sheep in a pasture. He did not notice the fences, and when questioned about it, seemed shocked and dismayed at the prospect that he had, in fact, stolen someone’s property. He offered to pay a proper sum for the two sheep, and deposited a large sack of coins and gems at the party’s feet to give to the villagers for their sheep – a sum far in excess of the sheep’s value. Binty, as they came to name the giant, finished cooking the meal and they all stayed to eat because they felt to do otherwise might have been insulting. They questioned him about giant activity in the area, and asked about some of the rituals involved as he was seeking a mate. After the meal was done, they excused themselves and brought the princely sum to the village. The village elders gave some of the money over to the fort as a reward for the integrity of the soldiers, and they all returned home with an amazing tale to tell during the rounds of gambling and boot shining and the like. And a few days later, no one believed a word of it and the rumors and stories quickly died away.

A week or so after the events at the cave, the adventurers were in the dining hall finishing up a meal and preparing for morning patrols as was their duty when one of them was approached by Adria, a cook. She begged them to investigate the sounds coming from below in the larder as some of the food appeared to have gone missing and there were sounds coming from behind one of the locked doors. The group went below, unlocked the doors, and spied a group of rats busily eating some of the contents of a burst sack. They took no time in dispatching these animals, but one of them charmed one of the larger creatures and managed to befriend it for a time, asking it some questions about its habits and nest, learning that there were a few more larger rats in the room beyond.

They group unlocked the door and surprised the other group of rats, quickly dispatching the cold and starving creatures. The one rat then informed them of the location of the nest, the hole in the building, and the location of the entrance from outside which they quickly repaired. After this was done, they allowed the animal to go free. After this was done, they returned to their normal duties, and all was again routine for nearly the remainder of the month.

With but two days left in the month, the group had drawn night patrol for the last week and was enjoying the routine of patrol in the snow. While winter in the mountains was always interesting, snow had started early this year and already they were approaching more than 3" on the ground with no end in sight of the snow falling. As they were finishing up the evening patrol, they heard voices and noises from the stables and decided to investigate. They burst through the doors to find 5 starving and desperate individuals attempting to steal horses. One of the group, a boisterous and eager individual, joked that he could take all of them on himself as they launched themselves into the fray.

The thieves were outmatched from the start, as the adventurers quickly overwhelmed them and dropped two of them with their quick maneuvers and expertise. Sharp blades and fiery magic made quick work of the rest as the 5th thief dropped his blade and surrendered rather than end up like his friends. They tied him up and sent for the watch sergeant, who questioned the thief briefly before sending him to the stockade and chiding the adventurers for not taking the initiative to capture more of them and just killing them outright. He curtly dismissed them to their bunks, informing them without saying so that they were probably going to be receiving some sort of administrative punishment or harsh words for their conduct at some point. With that, the adventurers returned to their bunks.

The last day of the month, after having received neither punishment nor criticism for their actions, the adventurers received duty patrol with Sergeant Kant – the punishment had arrived. Sergeant Kant took them around the fort for an extended 14-hour patrol in the 6" deep snow as they examined buildings for signs of infestation, examined trees for signs of rot, checked roadways for damage, watched the cliffs for signs of falling rocks, and other such “useful” practices. However, Sergeant Kant appeared to take all of it as a serious task, and took the time to listen to everyone’s points of view about certain tasks and allowed them to decide how best to resolve certain issues that were found. Once the patrol was completed, Sergeant Kant released them for the remainder of the month, giving them the remainder of the day to themselves. As they returned to their bunks, they received word from the watch sergeant that they need not present themselves for duty for the next two days, as they were being given the first two days of the month off as personal time.

But when they returned, they were to report to Sir Barrister directly in his home instead of at duty formation to receive their next round of orders…

Baby Steps

For years you all have been laboring and training under the watchful eyes of many tutors, but none so watchful and critical than those of Sir Barrister Von Gillar – the knight who commands the garrison living in High Pass. With each passing year you all have grown in both stature and skill, easily out-distancing most of the other vassals to be considered amongst the ones most likely to be chosen as Apprentices this year. To be chosen as Apprentice is a great honor; you all will still be learning your places, but you will be doing so from some of the top instructors at the fort – especially from Sir Barrister himself and his two mystical advisors Master Practitioner Aldridge and Master Cleric Dom.

Finally, the Time of Choosing is upon you all, and none of you are left wanting as each of your names are spoken aloud before the gathering of soldiers for you all to take your places as Apprentices to your new chosen professions. Those of you choosing the martial life are given over to the grizzled warrior Dolin Frostbeard, the dwarven captain in charge of all the guards. For those of you who have chosen the path of the arcane, you are given over to Master Practitioner Aldridge, an older human wizard with quick eyes and an even quicker tongue, especially when dealing with those who interfere with his charges. Master Cleric Dom, a quiet and contemplative human who towers over all the others around him, takes those that seek the path of the spiritual warrior – you all still remember seeing him in action on the sparring field and know that this gentle giant is a bear on the battlefield. For those that chose to follow in the footsteps of the scouts, you have been given over to Master Scout Eliandre, a female elf whose swift, quiet footsteps have left many a quarry unprepared for her hunt. Those choosing to accompany the even quieter and shadowy path of the spies are given over to Master Shadow Hurgin, a halfling with a boisterous laugh and a twisted sense of humor to match. Finally, those finding a special calling to the faith in both spirit and arms are to be trained by none other than Sir Barrister himself, a paladin in the service of Torm.

The feast that follows takes you all far into the evening, where events began to grow fuzzy to the memory until you all only remember the time you woke the next morning, the taste of something vile upon your tongue and a particularly brutal pounding in your head. Already used to such things apparently, the acolytes were present to take away such distractions, for the day was to begin your new roles…with even more hard labor and intensive training, on top of being given additional duties within the fort to befit your new stations. Guard rotations needed to be filled, the signal tower needed to be manned on a regular basis, the newest recruits were to be trained in the basics of combat and service; all of the things that you all watched with wonder as you were younger suddenly seemed less wondrous and much more mundane and banal as you went about your next year of life getting used to the newest routine until even the futility of it all wore off and you realized exactly what it meant to be a soldier of High Pass.

One this particularly cold morning, you all awake to find an unsealed parchment set on the chest containing your personal effects – a summons from the sergeant of the guard. It reads, “You will meet me atop the High Pass Gate an hour after First Bell to receive your latest instruction. Do not be late as it shows disrespect for your instructors and discredits you as not being worthy of the honor you have received. Further information will be given unto you when you arrive.” The parchment is unsigned, but you recognize the handwriting well, and realize that Sergeant Garvin wrote it himself instead of passing along the duty to one of his understudies – something that piques your interest more so than the mysterious summons. Sergeant Garvin rarely takes the time to write his own orders; for him to do this now shows that this is something very important to him personally.

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