Five individuals of widely varying origin gather outside the small northern city of Rector, answering a wide recruitment call to join the local chapter of mercenaries under the King's Own Knights. They meet Captain Westwind, a Knight, and a dozen other hopefuls. The captain takes a day to test their mettle, and weeds out the less than capable; leaving Baat, Khamul, Kemina, Taelyn, and Tasi remaining. He names them a team, and begins to train them up. After a couple weeks of this, Captain Westwind gives them their first, trial assignment before answering a summons of his own. Turns out, the captain has an old friend, Gundren Rockseeker, in need of a simple escort retinue to bring some cargo through the nearby woods. They are to await the dwarf in the town of Nettleton.
Our story begins there – with the five new "rat catchers", so called, spending another day of manual work, killing time, and waiting for the bearer of their first assignment to show up. But their still-slightly-awkward-and-unsure-of-each-other evening takes a turn for the strange with the arrival of a few unfamiliar faces to the Daystar Tavern, a messenger from a neighboring lord, and a familiar local acting a little odd. But with the tear of a scream suddenly silenced, strange becomes horrific.
Grindol, the local carpenter, has just mortally stabbed a man as the party turns to get their bearings of the scene. Stunned for only a moment, Grindol attempts to sprint from the tavern. Sylvia Starsung, the owner, cries out – "Somebody stop him!" – and together, Kamul, Kemina, and Baat succeed in doing so. While Tasi and Kamul tend to the fallen man – a one Eli Brighten -Taelyn urges Sylvia to send a couple of her bartenders to fetch the local constable.
While the party attempts to confront Grindol and investigate the weapon of attack, Grindol is nonresponsive… but Tasi does have an unexpected "vision", it seems, of the dagger's recent history as he settles into his usual, mundane system of investigation and identification. It seems Grindol did, undoubtably, carry the blade into the tavern and, by his own hand, drive it fatally into Eli. Though the blade was not Grindol's own, but rather one he recently found.
The constable, Aleena Ironsky, arrives (Indarr, the town priest, in tow) and takes command of the situation; formally (albeit temporarily) deputizing the party so that they may legally aid her in resolving the crime. Indarr takes responsibility of the fortunately stabilized Eli, and the party follows Aleena, leading Grindol, from the tavern to "the lockup."
Which, it turns out, is merely a narrow shed behind the butcher's shop, locked with heavy chains and a padlock. After securing Grindol within, Aleena informs the party that a crime of this magnitude will require her to leave town and fetch a magistrate from the city to officiate a formal trial. Calling on them as minor representatives of the King's Own Knights, she asks for their aid in keeping watch on the prisoner until her return. The party agrees, and Aleena sets off to make arrangements for her journey.
Night is well and truly fallen as the party divvies out their watch assignments, and Taelyn takes up her position of first watch as the others settle in for some rest until the morrow…