We meet most of our adventurers on the back of a wagon. Torvan Blackwater the human spear fighter, Arlen the half-elf warlock, Feorge son of Floki the halfling rogue, Missy Brenngeld the dragonborn sorcerer, and Jafar the human death cleric are escorting Horace’s beer delivery wagon to Rochdale in the Torstellian Empire. Shortly after noon while traveling through the forest surrounding the town, Torvan notices felled trees blocking the road ahead. As the wagon comes to a halt, great wolves and Worgs assault the adventurers. Torvan’s spear attacks, Feorge’s beer keg antics, Missy’s dragon breath, and the timely arrival of Cartumal, a half-orc ranger, defend the wagon. but not before the wolves howl for assistance from the rest of the pack. Quickly clearing the trees from the road, the adventurers continue on their way, escaping before the rest of the pack arrive.
Once in Rochdale, the group make their way to the Dancing Destrier Inn, more colloquially known as the Prancing Pony. Missy retires to her room early, while Torvan, Arlen, and Jafar turn in in the cellar. Feorge shares drinks late into the night with a pair of well-to-do fratboys, swapping tales of ancient temples beneath the nearby Lake Rochdale, before taking his respite in the refuse barrel behind the inn.
In the morning, the adventurers travel around the lake to the northwest for the Adventurer’s Aptitude Test. Once the auditions begin, Torvan skillfully dispatches his three opponents in the martial challenge. Arlen is bested by a White Wolf summoned by Arcanist Vertria when seeking power and favor. Missy discerns the hidden message contained within a magical box summoned by Arcanist Felora. Jafar is narrowly defeated by undead wolves. While the rest of the students were tackling their challenges in the arena, Feorge receives a secret mission from the (half?)orc groundskeeper. Using his barrel hiding skills, Feorge sneaks up on and pickpockets the two message halves inviting him to the secretive Fifth College. As auditions wrapped up, Cartumal defends her research proposal to Felora.
As the newly admitted students leave the stadium, Cartumel is accosted by upperclassmen assistants of Arcanist Vestria. Feorge comes to her aid as Cartumal decks one of the assistants before the brewing conflict is broken up by instructors. As the upperclassmen leave, they promise that Cartumal will never complete her studies.