You are part of the Tormon Guild, a highly-respected society of mail-carriers. Your people transport letters and packages through the long, dark stretches between points of civilization. You have received special training and equipment from your society, tools necessary to protect your cargo along the way. You and the other mail-carriers in your squad have all been members of the society for at least a year. You all know one another, and each of you has worked with each other squad member at least once before this mission.
For your current delivery, you were assigned a package, a wax-sealed wooden crate with the dimensions of a large book. You immediately suspected it to be a spellbook or some other tome of forbidden lore. As typical, you were given no information about the sender’s identity. You were to deliver the package to “the Burgomaster of Baroviom” in “the Shadow Moor below Mount Ghakis.” A bounty of 800 gold marks awaits the delivery.
For three days, you rode toward the mountain border that bounds the vast northern baronies, braving cold winter rains and lurking highwaymen. At St. Lukesburg, your guild paid passage for your team and your horses on the old locomobile line called the High Pass. A six day ride on the ancient rails saves several weeks of difficult travel through the high mountain passes. Since trade resumed with the northern baronies, the High Pass route has run twice monthly with increasing custom, particularly from those eager to open new markets.
For five days, you watched silent snowfall out the windows of the locomobile as it rolled across the High Pass. Elaborate bridgework carried the rails over impossibly wide chasms, their deep depths obscured by the misty swirl of snow. Inside the comfort of the railway cars, meals were simple but served hot with mulled wine. A minstrel played the harpsichord periodically, providing an atmosphere of seasonal cheer. And sleeping cars allowed you to rest in relative comfort.
In the early morning hours of the final day of the passage, the locomobile stopped abruptly on its rails. The lurch woke you from your sleep. It did not feel like a normal stop for a coal-engine of this sort. You and your fellow mail-carriers dressed and left your sleeping car, readying yourselves for the unexpected.