The heroes, along with the rest of the 3rd year students were summoned to Colini Hall via a posting in the College barracks. Once assembled, Dean Amardadous addressed the students and laid out the groundwork for their ‘final exam.’
It was to be a two part affair. Success in the first part – an excursion to Red Lake to recover some unknown property – would result in a time bonus for the 2nd part, a testing ground in the arena.
The only rules – no magic to travel, no recovering someone else’s item, and no climbing the walls in the arena. With a “the test starts on the ’marrow.” there wasn’t much to go on. Other teachers moved among the students and provided the pre-formed groups with a sigil that would identify the item they were to recover.
The party made some plans to leave right at midnight by paying a riverboat owner, one Johra, a princely sum to sail up the river in the dark. Rowers were brought aboard to push the boat quickly against the current and Johra stayed at the till throughout the long night and following days. Jessyca also paid the man additional funds on top of that, looking for the best journey possible. They arrived at the easternmost junction of the Vinewater, where they were to depart the boat.They traveled with borrowed horses and used those to disembark and travel quickly along an ill-defined animal trail spotted by the druid.
An assassin vine was spotted during the journey but wisely avoided for fear of 1) it’s unknown abilities and 2) the potential cost in time.
Making it to Red Lake, the party scouted out various sigils until they found their own, while avoiding signs of other people. There they faced the guardians – 2 Fell Drakes, nasty little carrion eating reptiles with limited intelligence. Successful, despite Jessyca taking a nasty bite, the party recovered the bag they were to fetch. To try to gain even more time, they set forth even through the darkness, reaching the river the next morning. Some rest and a bit of luck saw Johra on his return trip who was kind enough to offer them an additional ride on his return home.
Returning to Averlae saw them return the horses and make there way to the Adventurers Guild as quickly as possible to find that they were the first group to return (by a decent margin), thus giving them first access to the Arena portion of the final exam.