The first morning.
The town of Borderkeep is busy, being a primary tradepoint between the Seelie Elves of the Norwood and the kingdom of Norrel. the Border wood also attracts those not desirous of the clean city life of the Capitol, and so the keep has a general wild feel to it.
Its here, however, that a group of Pilgrims gather to make their final preparations to take the Journey South to Durein. some are here for Religious Reasos, some are starting a new life, some are here on a mission, and some others for reasons unknown. But what ever the reason, they have assembled to take this Journey together.
The caravan is headed by one of Durein’s best Knight-Captains, Sir Duncan McLeon. The caravan is eight (8) wagons in length, and as you are loading your things into the wagons, you get a good look at the other Pilgrims.
There is a Priestess of Elohim, with a small cadre of followers who are likely ” Prophesy Pilgrims .” And are betting on the fame of whatever prophesy the Priestess possesses.
An unlikely pairing, a Hoarfrost Elf who has a wild look about her, and a halfing whom you barely catch a sight of.
There is another Hoarfrost Elf who, you think, is moving south along with what appears to be his adoptive human family.
There are another five (5) families here, obviously migrants, of different heritages. They are likely victims of the shadow that plagues the Borderwood, driving pilgrims out of their homes.
Along with Sir Duncan, there is another knight of Durein, armed much lighter than the iron-clad knight-captain.
A sight to behold, two Eladrin! An elderly wizard, and someone who appears to be his apprentice.
And finally, there is a couple who primarily keep to themselves, and for good reason. A Tiefling scholar, and an Elf who appears to be his lover. They speak often in whispers.
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any sort of Guard for the caravan… and Sir Duncan seems to be getting more nervous the closer to sunrise it becomes. As you make the final preparations, he gathers you all together.
“Good Folk, I have been charged with the safety of this caravan, however I can not do this alone. The keep has refused to spare any of their soldiers, and the local mercenaries appear to not want anything to do with traveling south.
“It is not all so dour, however, I have hired a – Ah! here hey are now – a small company of rangers to guide us over the mountains. Degas, Hail and Welcome!”
“Hail,” replies Degas, “I apologize for the lateness of the hour in which we do arrive. Some of my men took longer to rouse than the others.” He motions to a thicker man, who is half drenched and still not quite awake. Degas’ other men chuckle at the comment.
Sir duncan turns back to you all, “We will, however, need some more guard after we leave the mountain pass. I know I’m asking a lot, but is there anyone here who will volunteer?”
The caravan is quiet for a moment…
“Knight Calidore, I know I can count on you.”
“Yes, you can.” Replies the young man.
“Priestess, would you lend us Elohim’s Aid?”
“If I can,” Replies the young woman.
“Anyone else? Anyone who has combat skills is needed to protect the rest of us. I wouldn’t ask except that I have no other choice.”
“I will do what I can to protect the caravan.” Volunteers the Elven Druid.
“The Scholars of Sarl are not without their tricks,” replies the Tiefling.
“We will offer what aid we can,” Says the old Eladrin Wizard, after whispering with his apprentice.
“I will fight for my family, and for these others,” Replies the white-haired ranger.
“Good, Good.” Replies Sir Duncan, “thank you all. Degas? Lead the way.”
“With pleasure,” the man replies.
The first evening
The trip through the Borderwood is uneventful, and night comes quickly as the freshness of the journey has quickened your step. That night, Duncan takes some time to familiarize himself with the groups tactics. He sets up a few straw dummies and asks the volunteers from this morning to display some combat prowess. Degas and his men go first, as a demonstration.
Two of Degas’ men display some rather hard two-handed sword attacks, and while they seem impressive, you get the feeling they aren’t that experienced. His other men display a few quick and deadly moves, that might have otherwise been at home in an alley.
Degas, true to his word, displays some ferocious two-bladed fighting style. He’s experienced, to be sure.
The Priestess Anae says a prayer, and one of the straw dummies is engulfed in light from heaven and then bursts into flames.
The Knight Calidore displays a unique series of parries and thrusts, ending in the straw dummy burning in green flame.
The Druid Dierdre transforms into a panther and proceeds to rip the stuffing out of one of the dummies.
The Tiefling, after trading a few sarcastic remarks about the exercise with Duncan, recites a dirty limerick to the dummy which then Flghumpgh! bursts into flames.
The Eladrin Apprentice extends her staff at the dummy and the crystal at the end breaks into many shards, which fly at incredible speed to embed themselves into the dummy.
The Elven Ranger places a coin in the straw dummy, and then from a hundred paces away shoots an arrow right into the coin.
And if anyone was paying attention, after all these displays of power, one of the dummies received a “nose” in the form of a small throwing knife.
Duncan, pleased with the combat prowess of the group, dismisses them for the evening.
The second day
The second day passes the same as the first, and that evening Duncan decides to pass around a few drinks and asks the volunteers to tell a little about themselves. Each shares what they feel comfortable with, which is not a lot, but everyone seems to be getting along better with each other.
The third day
The morning of the third day brings with it a cold wind and an overcast sky. While you know the sun must be up, the sky remains dark and foreboding. Black clouds amass over the mountain pass which you must cross later today.
As you pass a small town, you can clearly see a column of smoke rising from it. Duncan decides to try and get some more supplies for crossing the mountain, and asks the volunteers to accompany him into town. When they get into town, they discover that a Blue Dragonborn had burned down an entire block just because she was denied service at the local Outfitters. Needless to say, Duncan is denied any additional supplies for the caravan as they are all up in smoke.
After asking around, the volunteers learn that the Blue Dragonborn had a fiery temper (no doubt!) and after burning down the block, she and several others took the mountain pass south.
The mountain pass
Empty-handed, Duncan returns to the caravan and leads it up the mountain pass. It is not long, however, until the sky opens up and it begins to rain. The going is slower now, as the oxen are taking extra time to find their footing.
The same cannot be said for Degas, however, as you come across him sitting in the road with a sprained ankle. The Priestess heals him, but he asks the Druid to scout around the next bend until he can put weight on the foot.
Dierdre rounds the next corner in the mountain pass, only to watch as the road is washed out and down the mountain. She returns to the group not a moment too late, as the Eladrin Wizard spots some torches among the rocky cliffside.
It’s a Trap!