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…