The characters are taking a time honoured route to becoming fully fledged adventurers by hiring out their services as guards for travelling merchants.
We first join them setting up camp a day out from the village of Avarrtoft in western Frithland. Their employer is an old furrier named Markus Ninepelts, who buys skins from outlying settlements and farms and sells them in the markets of Winter Haven. He has half a wagon load and only a few stops left on his rounds before returning to the Kandaarian capital in about a fortnight.
The weather has been kind to the party so far, but over the last day or so dark clouds have been gathering and the evening air is noticeably cooler than usual. Sure enough as the night draws in it brings with it a shapr shower of cold rain, and you are thankful for the shelter of a large old oak tree here where Markus often makes camp. The rain passes leaving a biting wind that blows stinging campfire smoke in your eyes as the characters prepare their watch roster and settle down for the night.
About an hour before dawn, the sentry (Volmar) hears a noise in the darkness…